Doughnuts and Doom is a delightful queer romantic comedy with witches, music, mishap, and of course, donuts. It’s a slow-burn storyline from cartoonist Balazs Lorinci about a witch/online potion seller named Margot and a musician/donut store employee named Elena. A mishap at the local donut store brings them together as Margot accidentally curses Elena while feeling a little hangry after failing her spell license test, and like any good rom-com, they keep bumping into each other and become good friends and maybe more. The story explores the pitfalls of relationships and being a young person with good humor and energy complemented by Lorinci’s soft lines and color palette. It also indulges in quite a few romantic comedy tropes like meet cutes, absurd misunderstandings, inability to read signals, and of course, a show-stopping musical number, but the charm of Balazs Lorinci’s art style and the depth that he gives the two leads make it go over like popcorn and facemasks instead of stale bread crumbs.
Another enjoyable thing about Doughnuts and Doom is that Elena and Margot get their own lives and arcs outside of their budding relationship. Lorinci immediately creates empathy for both characters by putting obstacles in their paths. Elena’s band is struggling to find an audience, and she’s burning the candle on both ends trying to create music and also pay the bills by working at the donut shop. This situation is definitely relatable to anyone who has worked multiple jobs or had to balance creative work and the day job, and it’s really rewarding when Margot listens to Elena’s band’s music on and connects to it, honestly, getting a part of her soul handed to her on a platter. Balazs Lorinci writes lyrics for Elena’s band (A two-piece, like the White Stripes, but swap the genders and more mishaps at gigs), and it adds to the comic’s themes of loneliness and finding that special connection in an unexpected place.
As a witch, Margot’s struggles are more rooted in the supernatural as Doughnuts and Doom opens with her failing her spell license test. (Thankfully, she has potions to fall back on especially in the financial department.) Later, in the book, she opens up to Elena about her fear of performing in front of people, and as a person who is deathly afraid of appearing on video, public speaking, and doesn’t listen to their own podcasts, I can definitely relate and smiled big-time at her big, let’s say, shining moment towards the ends of book. Margot’s issues with magic set up much of the plot of Doughnuts and Doom as she accidentally curses the donut Elena eats on her break leading to her get electrocuted at her gig. This sets up another meeting of the two where Margot cooks up a potion to remove the curse, but it ends up being a lot more complicated than that. Margot struggles with something that should be second nature to her, but it isn’t portrayed as a moral failing by Balazs Lorinci even though it’s a huge source of tension throughout and leads to personal troubles and with the powers that be/bureaucrats of the witching world.
Along with lovely character arcs for its two lead characters, Doughnuts and Doom features a unique visual style. I love the crackles of color that Lorinci includes any time something magical or musical happens in the comic, and that extends to the sparks that fly between Elena and Margot. There are also random little things I like about the art like that he draws cute noses and over the top facial expressions that especially work in the misunderstanding era of Elena and Margot’s relationship when Margot kind of came off as a Karen when she wanted a specific kind of donut. (But, honestly, no one’s perfect, and flunking a hard test plus being hungry is not a bad combination.) During the concert sequences, Balazs Lorinci uses wider panels and split screen compositions to show the energy from Elena and her drummer Tyler, and how it ebbs and flows in the crowd, and especially Margot.
All in all, Doughnuts and Doom is an eminently relatable and fiercely queer romantic comedy graphic novel that will warm your heart like the “Hot and Ready” sign at your local donut shop coupled with your favorite track on your “yearning” playlist. (It pairs nicely with “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA, or “Pang” by Caroline Polachek.)
Story/Art: Balazs Lorinci
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy
IDW/Top Shelf provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review