It’s the start of a new year. The time when people set resolutions in order to better their lives and themselves. The quest to become a better person is the central theme of The Hazards of Love. This original graphic novel, published by Oni-Lion Forge, is due out on March 31st. In what’s becoming a rarity in the modern comic book industry, this book is the product of a single creator. Stan Stanley does it all in this graphic novel. She’s the writer, artist, colorist, and letterer. The graphic novel, subtitled Book 1: Bright World, collects the eleven issue first arc of the marvelous and creative series.
In The Hazards of Love, Amparo makes a deal with a talking cat, hoping to be made into a better person. Instead, the cat steals Amparo’s body and sends them to a strange realm known as Bright World. One of my favorite things about this graphic novel is that Amparo is a queer non-binary character. Amparo is very dynamic and defined by more than just their gender. Their tough attitude, infectious charm, and bold tenacity makes them relatable and fun to read.
One thing I find endearing but far fetched was that all the characters are immediately accepting and cognizant of Amparo’s neutral pronouns. One random girl misgenders Amparo in a single panel. Every other character, from the school bully to the magical denizens of Bright World, uses the correct pronouns. It’s a great inclusion as far as representation goes and I for one hope to one day live in a world where such understanding is as common in our world as it is in The Hazards of Love.
All of the dialogue in this graphic novel is light-hearted and humorous. Stanley crafts an interesting and multi-faceted love story. I’m not usually the biggest fan of romance, but if I’m going to read the genre, this is the type of love story I want to read. On the other hand, I do read quite a bit of YA fantasy. So I can say with confidence that Stanley’s story hits all the high points that I want out of that particular genre. All of the characters are unique with their own distinct personalities. Just when I started to get bored with a particular situation or locale, Stanley changed things up and introduced a new setting, scenario, or character.
Stanley mixes illustrative styles throughout the graphic novel. Her characters are drawn in a way that reminded me of The Magic School Bus. Her title pages and narrative text is all drawn and colored so that it is reminiscent of Dios de los Muertos decorations. Whether they’re more realistic looking or the bright pastels inherent from Mexican culture, Stanley’s color choices work together to connect all of the imagery together. She also uses visual onomatopoeia to creatively illustrate sound effects. These are drawn and colored in such a way that they practically pop from the page.
There are occasional discrepancies between how the characters are illustrated. Amparo is drawn much more animatedly than Iolanthe, even when they’re together in the same panel. Iolanthe stays realistic and natural-looking while Amparo looks very much like a cartoon, complete with bugged-out eyes and elastic features. This animated illustration style works better when Amparo is paired with the anthropomorphic animal characters in Bright World than it does when paired with Iolanthe or other human characters. Having said that, Bright World is drawn and colored so intricately and beautifully that these slight deviations can be easily forgiven.
As we move into 2021, all of us are hoping for a better year. The Hazards of Love is both something to look forward to and a reminder of the risks one must occasionally take in order to become a better person. The story is full of excitement, humor, and touching moments. The artwork, especially the colors, is spectacularly done. There are a few minor flaws, but they aren’t enough to detract from the greatness of this graphic novel. Upon finishing the book I was immediately excited to find out what happens next.
Story: Stan Stanley Art: Stan Stanley
Color: Stan Stanley Letterer: Stan Stanley
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review