book reviews, Graphic Novels, spoiler free

Stand in your Power

45718659._SX318_Stand in your Power by Rachel Smith

Rating XXXX

Published May 2019 by Rachel Smith

“I wanted to stay in that bed forever…I really don’t know how I’m going to get through today…let alone the rest of my life.”

Stand in Your Power is a collection of autobio comic strips that comic-creator extraordinaire Rachael Smith made after going through a breakup and attempting to get on with her new, single life. The comics deal with loneliness, figuring out who you are, moving on, dating, friendship, depression, love, and many other super-relatable things.

I first came across Rachael while wandering the isles of MCM Comic Con a few years back now I think and I was having trouble dealing with a lot of the crowds so I made my way over to the comic village (which has since become my absolute favourite part of London MCM) where it was a little quieter and I remember seeing a stall that had comics and the main thing that drew my eye, pin badges with a cute grey kitty that said “you got this” and I went to take a closer look and picked up a copy of “Flimsy’s Guide to Modern Living” and it was about Flimsy the cat that I’d seen on the pin badge just trying to get through life even when things didn’t feel great, it was full of cute and really great affirmations for things like, “Decide every morning that you are in a good mood” and my personal favourite, “Feeling sad? OMG eat cheesecake.” It was fun and silly and Rachael signed my book (because obviously, I brought it) and was lovely to chat too which helped me feel less enclosed by the crowds and really helped. I’m feeling so honoured to have received a copy of her newest book “Stand in your Power” to review! 078The first thing that always stands out to me with all of Rachael’s work is her distinct, emotive art style and use of a big, bold yet warm colour palette, it’s utterly eye-grabbing and inviting and Stand in your Power is no exception. On the cover, I especially love the spotlight over Rachael and the two dark creatures that symbolise her depression etc surrounding her. This graphic novel is also in full colour and the colour really gives the artwork an extra zing, it’s an absolute treat for the eyes. I feel like the clean, almost simplistic style makes every scene feel comfortable and easy to read as well. This panel is one of my absolute favourites. 

111.jpgStand in your Power doesn’t follow what I would call a strict story, instead, it consists of different moments and realisations throughout the breakup and recovery with Rachael’s overarching narrative tying it all together so that it doesn’t feel like some comic strips just thrown together and it really works, it’s enjoyable and it feels like a journey you go on with Rachael.  The art and writing are very emotive and highly relatable whether you’ve been in a similar situation or not, there are experiences with mental health and depression, break ups, moving house, dating, friendships, finding yourself and honestly just being an adult which is much harder than the more adultier adults give us credit for. Trigger Warning for self-harm but Rachael has approached this brilliantly and not only given a warning but also colour coded the pages so it can easily be skipped over if needed. There are some really fantastic moments throughout Stand in your Power, and I nearly cried a few times at the kindness of Rachael’s supportive friends (Heather and the advent calendar especially!) I also found this trick remembering to take your meds stupidly helpul, this is actually something I’ve actually done since and let me tell you Jiji is not a forgetful cat.
121.jpgStand in your Power is available in softcover now and you can buy it at Rachael’s Etsy store here as well as her other books! Rachael Smith’s debut graphic novel House Party came out in 2014 with Great Beast Comics to critical acclaim. The Rabbit, released by Avery Hill Publishing in 2015, is her second graphic novel and was nominated for Best Book in the British Comic Awards 2014/15. Rachael is also the creator of Flimsy the Kitten and One Good Thing, Wired up Wrong, House Party and more including Stand in your Power. She is also currently running a funding campaign via Unbound.com for her next book Isabella and Blowden which you can check out here.

book reviews, spoiler free

NPC Tea Issues 1-5 Spoiler Free Review

NPC_Tea-236x360NPC Tea (Issues 1-5) Written and illustrated by Sarah Milman

Rating: XXXXX

Published: 2016 onwards (Still ongoing)

“Oh, is it a secret?”
“A badly kept one, but still: if you breathe one word about this to anybody –”
“You’ll what? Kill me?”
“With my bare hands”

NPC Tea is about Cardiff’s least popular tea shop, Y Ddraig, run by a perfectionist elf and a disgruntled fire summon. When a magicless human discovers Y Ddraig’s secret and a type of banned magic rears its ugly head, caddies upon caddies of rotting tea become the least of their worries as the entire city of Cardiff is threatened with destruction!

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I’m STILL reading/listening to A Queen of Air and Darkness and I needed a break, I hadn’t been feeling well recently so I gathered up all my indie/self-published comics I’ve been trying to get around to reading or rereading and I’ve spent the past week catching up. It has been GLORIOUS and over the next couple of weeks, I’m planning on reviewing my favourites and a couple of new ones that are on their way thanks to some amazing Kickstarters I backed earlier in the year.

First up is a comic that kind of sucked me back into this style of book and that is NPC Tea by Sarah Milman. The premise alone pitched to me by Sarah back at MCM Expo a few years back had me intrigued! I’ve always loved worlds where high fantasy and contemporary can mix with a nice dollop of magic stirred in and NPC Tea is all that and more! These books capture that perfect balance where this is still fantasy but set in a modern world which just gets me far too excited when thinking about all the Dungeons and Dragons stories I’d love to see in this world!

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Other than the synopsis one of the first things that drew me to these was the art style and I apologise to anyone who is even remotely artistically inclined for my ineloquence here but not only do I love the style in which these comics are drawn but the use of colours throughout the pages absolutely enthrals me, they are a pure joy to look at and not only do they help establish to whom and when events are happening they convey SO much more and honestly I’m so here for it. Not to mention the illustrations themselves are fantastic and Sarah’s work has this brilliant comedic timing where the written words and the illustrations join in such a way as to really enhance each other.

Even with the art aside the story moves along nicely and we get a bit of info, to begin with, to set us up and then as the characters learn and uncover more we, the reader do as well which I find especially satisfying. The characters of NPC Tea are beautifully diverse, they all have their own individual look, style and feel established very early on and the staff at Y Ddraig are honestly my favourite little dysfunctional family. As the issues move along we get closer looks at a good few of them and learn more about how they became the people they are without taking away from the main story too much. Personally Hannah the human is my favourite character and I love to see how she reacts to all the different situations cropping up around her, she’s kind but sassy and firey too!

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Overall I’ve found this series an absolute delight and the wait for the next issues are slowly eating away at me. Originally slated for eight issues I’m also really hoping we get more, perhaps a second story arc? I can’t imagine letting them go!

The first issue was released in 2016 with the second following in 2017 and issues three, four and five successfully kickstarted in 2017 and 2018 with rumours of six and seven not being too far off in the distance now! You can check out Sarah’s shop here where you can buy issues one to five now!