At long last, the final issue of Ghost Tree is nearing release. I've reviewed this series from beginning to end, and, looking back, I couldn’t be more glad that I did. Some comics exist purely for entertainment while others strive to become transformative in their medium. Ghost Tree sits comfortably in the latter column, alongside other comics I’ve reviewed such as A Girl in the Himalayas, Green River Killer, and Waves. It’s series like these that show what the comic book genre can truly do.
If there has been a theme in the past ten years of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s been the struggle to bring accessibility to general audiences. While the game has experienced tremendous growth and acceptance and is now truly bordering the mainstream market, it still suffers from one major detractor: D&D is a complicated game and has a high barrier to entry. Dungeons & Dragons: Monsters & Creatures and Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors & Weapons are the latest in a long line of innovations that attempt to convert the game into something more palatable.
Young adult novels are a hit-or-miss sort of thing. Some are breakout successes that speak to any aged reader, and some barely appeal to the very audience they’re targeting. The best young adult stories seem to be the ones that find a balance between tackling big, heavy ideas while also capturing the fantastical elements of life.
We're back for round three of the Japanese ghost story known as Ghost Tree. I reviewed issues #1 and #2 a while back. Going in, I knew nothing about the series, only picking it up because of the appealing cover. I’ve since grown to love this series for its brilliant use of color and sincere look at Japanese culture. Ghost Tree #2 ramped up the intrigue and pacing, so Ghost Tree #3 needed to keep that momentum going if it was going to live up to the first half of this story.
Stranger Things, the hit Netflix series created by the Duffer Brothers, tapped into the heart of all that was the 1980s. Not just the neon-steeped '80s of California and New York, but a rural, homey '80s. A world where Dungeons and Dragons had just come to pass; where home computers were just about to change our lives; where the threat of world war had become a distant memory. It's little wonder the series became a runaway success. The combination of snappy dialogue, a breakout cast, and a penchant for turning tropes on their head was everything watchers had hoped for.
Art books and archives like the Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive series are a treasure trove of information for creative minds. Even ignoring the value the book has as a piece of art itself, the small insights into the creative process of some of your favorite stories can be invaluable. I've been a fan of the Final Fantasy series for as long as I can remember, and I've often revealed in learning more about the creative process behind each game. To that end, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 3, which focuses on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th installments in the series.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to review Our Super Adventure: Press Start to Begin. While doing so, my love of the artwork of Sarah Graley was rekindled. So, imagine my excitement when Minecraft: Volume 1 appeared on my radar with Graley's unmistakable style gracing the cover.
A little while back, I reviewed Ghost Tree #1. It served as a strong introduction to the story, with strong color design and a slick Japanese influence. If I had one complaint, it would have been that the actual narrative was a little sparse, laying a lot of groundwork but not a ton of payoff. That isn't uncommon for first issues of a new series, so I waited patiently to see if the second issue could follow through on the promise of the first.
Not all art is about entertainment. Sometimes, art exists to challenge, teach, or heal us. A better way to describe art is to say that all art exists to help us. How it helps us changes from piece to piece. I had the opportunity this week to read Ingrid Chabbert’s Waves, the topics of which are of a grim seriousness that I don't want to obfuscate or shy away from. I'll start this review by saying that if you're searching for a lighthearted comic book, you might want to pass on this one. If you’re looking for something that will move you and, quite possibly, help you in your own life, then you need to learn more about Waves.
I wish I had a more inspired rationale for why I choose the comics I'm going to read. Many are either properties I already like or recommendations from other fans. When it comes to finding new works, I tend to choose based on the cover and title. The one good thing about this is that I often go into stories with little to no expectations which is exactly how I approached Ghost Tree #1.