WWACommendations: The Girl Downstairs, Femme Magnifique, Taproot, Crowded, and More

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What comics are you reading lately? Every month, WWAC contributors share some of the comics they’ve been especially enjoying. It’s been an especially stressful few months for many of us, so I hope these comics offer some solace. Let us know what comics you’re reading on Twitter!

Latonya Pennington: I’ve been slowly reading the comic book anthology Femme Magnifique: A Salute To 50 Magnifique Women. I checked it out from my local library on a whim and it has been both dazzling and fascinating. There are different writers and artists for prominent and lesser known women such as author Shirley Jackson, theatre director Ellen Stewart, and astronaut Sally Ride.

I also really enjoyed the graphic novel Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker. The artwork was cute and I really liked the coming-of-age themes, queer romance, and creative take on magic. Also, Joamette Gil’s lettering really made the dialogue and the character’s internal thoughts pop!

Paulina Przystupa: I had a big event recently that required a gift exchange and of course chose to give away some comics I had recently read. The first was Taproot, a super cute story about a ghost and a gardener by Keezy Young. It’s sweet and a little spooky and I loved reading it. The second was Modern Fantasy by Rafer Roberst and Kristen Gudsnuk, which was recommended to me by the awesome folks at Outsider Comics and Geek Boutique in Seattle. They are a great shop and gave an excellent recommendation when I was looking for an RPG related comic. Modern Fantasy is about what the world might be like if the characters from RPGs existed in our 21st century. The last comic I gifted was Crowded, one of my favorite ongoing series. See Zora Gilbert’s awesome review of issue 1 to get an idea of the series, and as a millennial just a step away from Crowded‘s gig economy hellscape, it was a great gift for another millennial.

Draven Katayama: If you’ve ever looked at my Twitter you know kpop is one of the things I pay attention to most, so whenever I find a webtoon about a kpop idol, I’m intrigued. The Girl Downstairs by Songah Min stars Joon, a college freshman who moves into the second story of an apartment building. He meets Duna Lee, the mysterious resident of the first floor, whom he recognizes but can’t remember where he’s seen her. It turns out Duna was the lead singer of a kpop group until she suddenly left and has been living in near self-isolation ever since. Joon and Duna strike up an awkward friendship which includes Duna flirting with him and Joon not knowing how to respond. Meanwhile, Joon has a crush on Margo, a former cram school classmate, and the reader is left wondering where that relationship is headed, too.

Songah Min’s art is emotive and colorful, and there are so many unanswered questions about Duna — is someone giving her the flavored cigarettes she likes? What happened to her friendships with others in the kpop industry? — that it’s easy to get hooked and read several chapters just to tease out a little bit more of the backstory. By the way, if you’re looking for another popular webtoon about a kpop idol, I previously wrote about LOST in TRANSLATION by jjolee, which is absolutely worth reading.

Third Shift Society by Meredith Moriarty is another comic on Webtoon that I’m enjoying lately. Third Shift Society stars Ellie, just a normal person who works at a thrift store and is struggling to pay rent and bills, when her boss informs her that the store is closing and she’ll be out of a job. This is when the comic takes a hard turn into the supernatural genre: Ellie meets a man named Ichabod whose head is a pumpkin’s head. Oh, and she learns she can emit blue energy flames from her hands. Ichabod is a paranormal detective investigating the recent spike in strange events in the city, and he offers Ellie a job as his partner. On their first job together, they search a haunted house. I didn’t know what to expect with this comic, but I’m completely riveted. Ellie and Ichabod have a healthy working relationship that reminds me of Captain America and Black Widow. I can’t wait to keep reading this comic.

Speaking of supernatural comics, if you’re into witches and demons, you might want to check out De Novo by Plastic Bottru. Last month I recommended another comic by the same creator, Oh, My Intern! De Novo begins with Faith, a woman who dies, faces a judge who makes her watch memories from her life, and who must decide whether she deserves Bella Pace or Damnatio Aeterna, your standard heaven/hell. When she declares she doesn’t deserve either, Faith meets Imperator, a fiery (literally) character who grants her a third option: De Novo. It’s a new start with not much explanation, and Faith is reborn as Victoria, a baby from an earlier time, perhaps the 1800s. We fast forward to an order of witches that protects a local village from demons, and Victoria, now an adult, is the witch tasked with confronting the latest demon threat. This comic has longer episodes than most other comics I’ve read on Webtoon, and it definitely feels like a story designed to engross the reader on a deeper level than just casual reading.

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Draven Katayama

Draven Katayama

Writer at Sidequest and WWAC; past executive editor of Kollaboration and writer at Newsarama and Comicosity. I'm a huge fan of Life is Strange, The Last of Us, TWICE, Blackpink, and ITZY. My MyDramaList: https://mydramalist.com/profile/loudlysilent Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/loudlysilent Tell me about the fandoms you love! @loudlysilent