By Robert Johnson Jr., Arts & Features Editor
Halloween is almost upon us, once again, and here at “Robbie’s Comic Corner,” I like to highlight comics and graphic novels that delve into the supernatural, the macabre. … The spooky, if you will.
Over the past few weekends, I have managed to convince my parents to take me to the comic shop that rekindled my obsession with the medium – Newbury Comics in Norwood.
In a previous “Comic Corner,” I briefly referenced this particular location – namely in my write-up on Noelle Stevenson’s “The Fire Never Goes Out” from earlier this year – but I always need to find an excuse to shill for that one Newbury Comics whenever the moment presents itself.
But, you don’t read “Robbie’s Comic Corner” for the backstories, you read it to learn about cool comics and graphic novels, so, that in mind, allow me to introduce “Ghosted in L.A.,” this week’s spooky story that I found on a trip to said Newbury Comics.
“Ghosted in L.A.” – or “G.I.L.A.,” hereafter – is a series by Sina Grace on writing duties, with art done by both Siobhan Keenan and Grace, that follows one Daphne Walters, a young woman from Missoula, Montana, who is on a mission to follow her true love.
Of course, to do that, she has to move to Los Angeles, which, according to a Google Maps search, and the fact that Daphne’s family embarks on this journey in a car, is a 17-hour drive with a total distance of approximately 1,210 miles.
So, yeah, that’s some dedication in the whole “pursuing your true love” game.
Aside from that, she enrolls in a nearby university, and things only continue to go downhill from there. After all, the story begins in the middle of a conflict between Daphne and her “best friend,” Kristi, hours prior to the former’s departure.
Daphne is quickly forced to acclimate to campus life, and, with that, comes the process of warming up to a roommate – which I know all too well. Only, in Daphne’s case, this roommate comes in the form of Michelle, a stoic, unbothered jerk who only exists to speak as minimally as possible and has a scar across her mouth. She bothers me. Unnerves me.
Basically, imagine having Sergei Dragunov from “Tekken” as your roommate, except he hosts a Bible study when you’re not around, and has longer hair and a clothing preference for the darkest darks imaginable.
Daphne, who is already a stranger in no-woman’s land, begins to avoid her dorm room and, instead, looks elsewhere for solace between classes.
One night, she decides to take a swim in a nearby pool to clear her mind, only to encounter the meat of “G.I.L.A.” – the ghosts of Mycroft Manor.
Shocked at the revelation that she stumbled across ghosts, let alone a manor containing them, she freaks out, only to quickly be greeted by the inhabitants – Agi, Pamela, Bernard, Ricky, Maurice, and Shirley – all ghostly apparitions of their former selves. My favorite ghost appears in volume two, and I don’t want to spoil that!
While most of the ghosts are friendly, with me having a particular fondness for Bernard, one individual wants nothing to do with her – Maurice. He only sees her as a nuisance, and does everything in his power to evict her from their home.
Even if it means having to kill her.
The nice ghosts of Mycroft Manor, however, all have their own eccentricities and stories to tell, which are showcased in bite-sized vignettes that explain to the reader the things each Mycroft resident did in their lifetimes, before becoming ghosts. This luxury even extends to the human characters, too.
These are very charming, and thanks to Grace’s storytelling and Keenan’s artistry – of course, with artistic assistance from Grace – they are very effective in making you care about these individuals.
Yes, it even made me care about Michelle, when it came time for her vignette in the second volume.
Speaking of character, the series has a lot of that going for it. The art style is bright and vibrant, and, need I say, adorable, in some aspects. But despite that, when Keenan and Grace want to hit you with something truly terrifying, they hit you hard. The coloring work by Cathy Le and lettering efforts by DC Hopkins only adds to the excitement and horror.
The characters, themselves, are brilliantly designed. Everyone has their own fashionable trademarks, and while the humans have more of a dynamic wardrobe than the ghosts, who have to wear the same articles of clothing, always, everything just makes you want to let out an “Ooh, girl!” when you see it.
Sure, “G.I.L.A.” looks like your cheesy, run-of-the-mill romantic comedy at first, but as the series progresses, it becomes more like a murder mystery, in the sense that there is always something new and dangerous to discover behind Mycroft Manor’s walls that Daphne wants answers to.
If you’re looking for a charming, short series coming in with only 12 issues, you need to put “G.I.L.A.” on your “To Read” list, like, right now.