Reading Pile: Proctor Valley Road TP & The Professor's Daughter GN
Sometimes there's a new Grant Morrison book where you have to wonder why they decided to make something so relatively normal. Partially that must also be because of Alex Child's involvement (I'm assuming he did scripting while Morrison was on plot), because in general this comes off as a solid YA horror coming of age story with no extreme Morrison-esque twists or experimentation. Which is actually perfect, because I don't always need that from Morrison and this was just a nice, fun, well scripted and paced story with an engaging cast of characters.
PVR follows August, Rylee, Cora, and Jennie, a group of friends growing up in the 70's who are desperately trying to save enough money to go see a Janis Joplin concert. August gets the idea of running a 'spook tour' on an allegedly haunted stretch of road to get the funds, only for the boys they took out to the road to disappear and for strange occurrences to start taking place.
The story takes its time in building up the core cast of characters, giving them all their own engaging strengths and flaws while interweaving a bit of supernatural world building along the way. Naomi Franquiz's art and Tamra Bonvillain's colors enhance all of this with top notch character design, facial emoting, and a strong narrative flow throughout. While the last chapter did rush a little bit for me during the final climax, overall the package was just solid in its pacing, leaving me wanting more. Which is great because this project just has streaming service adaptation written all over it.
If you're in the mood for a little mix matching of the likes of Stephen King's IT, Stranger Things, and Paper Girls then I highly recommend giving this a shot. On one hand it does feel like just one more installment of that 'kids on bikes' trope, but when it's done this well and gives you such great characters I can't fault them for wanting to play in that sandbox.
I'm a good 14 years behind in finally reading this charming short story that's been hiding in the mountain of books I'm working through, but better late than never I guess. I always got the feeling that it was a bit overlooked when FirstSecond translated it back in 2007, and in fact I think the copy I finally picked up was the one that haunted the bookshelves at our storefront for years.
The Professor's Daughter follows the exploits of the mummy Imhotep IV as he finds himself awake in 19th century London and spending time with Lillian, the daughter of the professor who found and owns Imhotep. Misunderstandings and murders abound as they find themselves in various situations that meander into a sort-of romance.
Creators Sfar and Guibert create a very humorous and enchanting set-up with a lot of strengths, but due to the nature of the short package (it clocks in at 80 pages) there really isn't much time for character arcs or a properly paced romance. Imhotep falls in 'love' with Lillian as she resembles a past wife, and once she realizes this there's really no development in their relationship as the story switches gears into a murder trial and the hijinks of Imhotep's also-a-mummy father. Which actually, I absolutely love and prefer to the romance. Imhotep III arrives as a somewhat menacing figure only to be revealed to be a chaotically bad father figure who's attempts to fix things only makes them worse. This includes storming the royal palace, murdering people, kidnapping the Queen to marry, and then being annoyed enough by her to toss her into the Thames. He is a precious character and I love him completely.
This is definitely a book focused more on an idea and less on a complete story though, especially as it starts in medias res, skirting some details here and there and only giving the title character a modicum of her own agency. I found it tough to linger too much on those faults though as it's such a short story and it felt like the focus was on the tone and art anyway. So my recommendation is go into it for a fun little jaunt with a cute concept and atmosphere and don't worry too much. A frustrated mummy daddy just doing his damnedest to murder everyone in his efforts to support his son is just the best.