There is a certain difficulty for me to writing a review for a comic. However, I don't know if I can truthfully call Lola a comic. When one thinks of comics, images of speech bubbles, and thought balloons are immediately invoked. Countless editions of the Sunday comics, or a beloved issue of Spider-Man jump into your head.
Lola and the Eleven Secrets is none of those things. In the 108 pages that make up this book, there is not a single speech bubble. Never does a thought balloon rear its ugly head. Instead, the reader is treated to unadulterated story telling. It starts off with 3 solid pages of text, with only slight hints at artwork in the margins. The art that shows up in those margins, manages to enhance the story, and maintain a high level of detail, even if it is only in shades of white.
The story itself, is an interesting affair. In short, Lola's father dies, and everything that happens in the story is a direct result of that one devastating event. In the story, her father was the most important person in Lola's life. He was possibly the only person who truly understood her. Then, she had to watch him waste away while undergoing chemotherapy, and ultimately die. This leads to Lola drawing even further into her own world. There is nothing really spoilery there, all of that is covered in the first 3 pages of text. The majority of the book, takes place down the line, and tells the story of Lola trying to overcome certain adversities, or to quote the back of the book, "Lola must now overcome her past, face her fears and find her answers or she will perish."
The art is really where this book shines, and it is also what caught my eye initially. The book is written and drawn by Nathan Szerdy. What he has created her is quite possibly one of the best examples of a "graphic novel" I think I have ever seen. His art in this book evokes a sort of vibe that is reminiscent of Tim Burton, or perhaps Neil Gaiman. Creating a world that reminds me a great deal of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and even more so of "Coraline". The art is unique, and beautiful and something I frankly want to see a whole lot more of! The images that I have attached should help to convey the interesting style, as well as the very unique coloring. Click on them, and check out the full size versions. Perhaps you will understand why I am so enamored with this style. Once you purchase the book, you can see how the art, and the words seem to be organically connected. part of the same image, rather than the standard "comic book" style where the words are placed on a pedestal, divorced from the art in a sometimes jarring fashion.
This book is part one of two, and I can honestly say, I would like to purchase the second book now, I want to see how this story ends. Now go out there, and get yourselves a copy! Maybe pick one up for your family as well.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Lola and the Eleven Secrets is an interesting book, a strange yet wonderful amalgamation of story-telling and artwork quite unlike anything I have ever seen. Unlike some comic/graphic novels, this is one that I believe can appeal to all ages. While the content may be a little spooky for children under 8, I still think that anyone could find something to enjoy here. Nathan Szerdy is a name that is definitely worth watching.
22 Page Score: A solid "A "
*Just as a small addendum. I have used the 22 page review heading here, because I think it is the best of our current post titles for this work. The "22 Page Review" heading is meant for comics, and although this work falls in the 108 page range, it's getting lumped in with comics, until such time as I come up with a better title.