I met editor Joamette Gil at GeekGirlCon this past October, and when she showed me this book, I knew I wanted to dive in. Aside from the book’s beautiful cover art (by Ashe Samuels), the hook that drew me in was the common subject matter explored in this anthology. Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, is all about magic. One thing I love about magic in fantasy stories is it’s ability to serve as a vehicle for deeper discussions about complex themes. As the title suggests, the main overarching thread that holds this anthology together is all the stories are about queer witches of color. But outside of that commonality, all the comics are very different. Some focus on themes of love and acceptance. Some use magic as a metaphor for mental health or connection to ancestors or forebears. It’s a rich collection and I love the various takes each artists/storyteller brings to the table. And, as you may have noticed, this is a comic anthology, so not only are the themes present in the story, but in the various art styles as well. This was a fascinating read for me, and I’m excited to review it for you all.
Genre: Comic Anthology | Fantasy/Romance/LGBT
Editor: Joamette Gil
Authors: Aatmaja Pandya, Ann Xu, Arianne Hokoki, Coco Candelario, Devaki Neogi, fydbac, Gebrielle Robinson, Hannah Lazarte, Jemma Salume, Joamette Gil, Juliette G. M. M. Lopez, Maria Llorens, Naomi Franquiz, Natasha L Barredo, Nivedita Sekar, Veronica Agarwal, Vexingly Yours
Where to Buy: powerandmagicpress.com
Page length: 178
My Content Rating: PG13+, mostly for some brushes with nudity (no full nudity, but there are some close calls) and some content younger readers may not understand (poetic metaphors for relationships, mental illness, dealing with the death of a partner)
Summary and What I Loved:
(Note: since this is an anthology, I’m just going to discuss a few of the stories rather than the collection as a whole.)
This is a lovely little comic about April, a witch, and Pamela, a baker. They have an adorable, loving relationship. April helps Pamela bake a cake and suggests Pamela enter into a baking contest. However, things get a little mixed up when April offers to add magic to Pamela’s cake. Pamela feels offended by this and that April doesn’t appreciate Pamela’s culture and values, and April leaves. Pamela does enter the baking contest, though, entering her magic-free cake, which she feels is representative of her values and cultural heritage. April ends up coming to the contest and is supportive as ever. The story ends with a wonderful declaration of their love.
I really enjoyed this comic for many reasons. It has a whimsical, soft art style that easily translates in black and white. The story itself was cute but full-hearted and sympathetic. I would call this fluffy goodness with a dose of real substance and a story that could easily be read and enjoyed by both the young and older reader.
“Your Heart is An Apple”
This comic doesn’t really have a plot. It’s more of a poem in comic form about how relationships affect us after they are over. I can’t really summarize it more than that without getting into opinion, so let’s get into that.
I found the use of metaphor in this comic really compelling. I think it grapples with the difficulties in having close relationships and the fallout when they end. I also appreciate that it highlights the role that other relationships play in our grieving/coping process. Honestly, this was probably my favorite of the entire collection. This was a sad but sweet comic that I feel like I will return to and again and again.
“After the Dust Settles”
This comic centers around Jia being given her grandmother’s old spellbook. Jia tries to cast from the book, but has difficulties. She feels guilt and shame for being separated from her grandmother’s language (and culture), which she blames for her inability to cast. But her loving girlfriend suggests she try again and perform a séance from the book. Jia tries and succeeds in summoning her grandmother’s spirit.
This story touched me because of it’s message about the difficulties of connecting with our forebears and family’s culture. I found it inspiring that even in the face of difficulties, like not knowing her grandmother’s language, Jia still pushes on and succeeds in forming a connection. I also really appreciated the art style, which was simple but also beautiful. The séance scene in particular really came alive across the page.
What I Didn’t Love:
Mostly, I had difficulties with some of the art styles in individual stories not doing well in black and white. This may be a nit-picky thing, but I think it’s important that in comics the art if very clear and easy to see no matter the medium. This wasn’t an issue in all of the stories, but some like “Te Perdi” or “Def Together” were hard to understand in certain panels because of this.
I also would have liked a little more cohesion in tone and reading level. I felt like some of the comics grappled with really mature subject matter, which I appreciated but wouldn’t feel comfortable passing on to a young reader. But some comics, like “Her Gift,” were adorable and I think appropriate for most ages.
Would I Recommend: Yes. While not all of the comics really came through for me, some of them were just spectacular both in art, subject matter, and story. And, even if I didn’t quite love a story, I felt like the whole collection itself sung with a sensitivity to life and love and the inherent pain and joy in both. Really, I think a lot of work and love went into these stories and their compilation and it really shows. I would definitely recommend this book to older teens, young adults, and adults. I think a younger teens might enjoy this but would suggest parents review first.
So, another Indie Spotlight done. Sorry for the long delay (again). With getting sick and Christmas I haven been off my normal schedule and having a hard time managing my time. Here’s hoping the new year brings plenty of inspiration and motivation for me to get back on my normal writing schedule! But, I am going to work on a couple of EXTRA posts next, so hopefully that will appease you all 🙂
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