For All the Tales, a science fiction fantasy hybrid with feeling.
We had the pleasure of reading Helena Rose, written by E.O. Levendorf with art by Sonia Liao. Thanks to our pal The Nerdy Girlie and women-focused comic company Emet Comics for giving Common Room the opportunity to bring you some new comic reviews!
The summary of this comic as listed on the website reads: An alien child prodigy must embark on an adventure through space to find a cure for her terminal illness.
This story is sad, funny, and gripping. It is told from the point of view of Helena Rose, a dying girl who lives in the outer rim of a far away planet where the occupants possess flowers instead of hearts.
I was already in love before I even started reading because the artwork is so gorgeous. The lines are delicate, but the colors are vibrant reflecting Helena’s fragile heath but also her strong will and personality. The artwork takes on a lot of world-building as well.
Much of the fantastical surroundings are not explained, but the more you study the details on the page the more you are immersed in the life on this strange planet.
Although I hesitate to categorize it, I would consider this to be a YA story. While geared towards younger readers, it avoids a pitfall that I think many YA stories run into, which makes this equally enjoyable for adults. Specifically, it does a great job of making Helena and her family “special,” but believable.
(Related: Our Favorite New Books and Rereads of 2015)
Helena herself is an incredibly likable character and one that you instantly root for from the very first page. She has the eagerness of a child but makes the incredibly difficult decisions of someone who has grown up much too quickly, as many chronically ill children do.
I loved this story and cannot wait to see where Helena Rose goes.
What are some of YOUR favorite YA comics?
Reading Helena Rose with All the Tales in mind I really enjoyed trying to spot the allusions to other tales. Whether intentional or not, they definitely add to the Intergalactic Fairytale feel and put you in the mood for something enchanting.
First off, Debbie and I were talking and she mentioned how the flower as a type of life timer reminded her of Beauty and the Beast‘s enchanted rose.
That was a great catch by DebStep and beautiful imagery from the artists! I loved that idea. I have a hard time with hardcore sci-fi or fantasy, but this was almost “urban” fantasy. It was grounded in terms we understand with twists not too complex to grasp.
(Related: Just How Magical Are Fairy Tales?)
A few other allusions were the “true love’s kiss” that brought Helena Rose to life which is a big trope in fairy tales, specifically Disney and Once Upon a Time. The glass coffin that reminds me of Snow White. The names are also quite fitting for the genre- the Rose family. Another allusion that might be a stretch is that spaceship that seems to transform like Cinderella‘s pumpkin.
Without spoiling, I want to touch on a specific character’s behavior. There are mentions of mental illness in this tale as well as a place where it can all go away and contentment can be found.
This is so important and well represented. I love the choice of contentment rather than happiness.
I’m not a huge comic reader, yet I’m hooked and will be looking out for the future of Helena Rose!
(Related: Mental Health in Harry Potter)
Images here are reposted with permission from Emet Comics. Check out Nicole’s review of The Wendy Project (coming next week!).
Please visit EmetComics.com for more Helena Rose and many other stories! Thanks again to Megan for the connection. :)