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Chicacabra Graphic Novel Review

Chicacabra Graphic Novel

Tom Beland makes a welcome return to the comic world with “Chicacabra.”

The story: After her father was murdered and her mother went into a catatonic state, Izzy has understandably struggled with life in Puerto Rico. Despite having caring friends and a sweet uncle (Tony) who takes care of her, Izzy still feels lost, sad, and above all, lonely.  Upon coming across a Chupacabra while exploring a tunnel one day, Izzy finds her life unexpectedly turned upside down when the Chupacabra merges inside of her for a reason that is later revealed. With Izzy now harboring what she affectionately calls Chicacabra, she not only finds a kindred spirit that understands her, but a protector who will lash out against anyone that threatens her. Of course, the story isn’t just about these two as there are crucial subplots about a scientist named Alejandro who may have answers about the Chupacabra, a jackass teenager (Angel) who is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of Izzy, Izzy’s ailing mother, and someone (or something) that is stalking Izzy.

After writing and drawing one of my personal favorite comic book series “True Story, Swear To God,” Tom Beland is back with an all new graphic novel tale titled “Chicacabra.” While ‘True’ was a heartfelt auto-biographical story, Beland has ventured into the fictional realm with his latest work about a Chupacabra living inside a teenage girl (Izzy). As outlandish as the core story may be, however, the material is still very much grounded in reality as it touches upon heavy duty topics and ideas such as loss, teenage life, coexistence, connections, love, family, humanity, forgiveness, pain, death, and yes, chupacabras. Beland clearly has a lot on his mind with the story and he exquisitely expresses these ideas through the storylines and the rich cast of characters.

On the subject of the characters, they are clearly the strength of “Chicacabra.” At 200 pages (including the 11 page sketch gallery), Beland has a lot of room to flesh out each and every character so that it makes the reader feel as if they are right there in Puerto Rico. Sure, one can argue that some of the exposition is a bit wordy and that he tends to spell out the themes, ideas, and plot points, but they are all in service of the characters so it’s not too much of an issue.

In terms of the artwork, Tom Beland sticks with his usual simple and to the point illustrations (and lettering). Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s what he’s known for, that’s what he excels at, and that’s what fits his stories.

Overall Thoughts: While perhaps a tad bit lengthy, “Chicacabra” is a worthy follow-up to “True Story, Swear To God.” I’m certainly looking forward to the sequel that is teased at the back of the graphic novel.

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July 28, 2014 - Posted by | Book review | , , , ,

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