Bedtimes and Broomsticks

What's even better than hearing that my niece can't come to the phone because she's engrossed in reading Magic Trixie?

I was recently made aware that E and her sister M — that's for privacy purposes, not because my sister names her children after street drugs and Fritz Lang movies — lent the book to a friend and were eagerly awaiting the sequel, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over. They need wait no more: Uncle Brian had already bought it, and mailed it out after hearing this rather than hold onto it for the girls' next visit. HarperCollins was smart to advertise the next installment in each book, price them at just $7.99, and of course snap up this series from the brilliant Jill Thompson to begin with.

Covers to Magic Trixie and Magic Trixie Sleeps Over © 2008 Jill Thompson.

Thompson is no stranger to sassy supernaturalists, having previously conjured up the delightful Scary Godmother series. Divine yet devilish SG is the Queen of Halloween, doyenne of a magical realm called the Fright Side and world's coolest grown-up companion to little Hannah Marie. In the debut 1997 hardcover, Hannah proudly went trick-or-treating with the big kids for the first time only to have her cousin Jimmy abandon her in a supposedly haunted house — prompting Scary Godmother to step in, calm Hannah's fears, and turn the tables. Three more hardcovers and a dozen traditional comic-book issues were published by Sirius through 2002, and all are highly recommended. The "one-shots" and miniseries, now available in collected editions, have invitingly busy black-&-white interiors full of strong shadows and sharp angles, especially on Scary Godmother herself; their stories delve deeply into the Fright Side, bringing characters barely seen in the hardcovers to the fore, but in rereading them recently with an uncle's eye I noticed occasional borderline bawdiness that may concern some parents. On the other hand, the lavishly watercolored hardcovers are absolutely all-ages appropriate, with simpler language, typeset captions and fewer word balloons (though the narrative still unfolds in the comic-book style, what many practitioners and academics call sequential art). There have also been two Scary Godmother animated specials, available on DVD.

Above: Covers to the first Scary Godmother hardcover © 1997 Jill Thompson. 
Below: Panel from the first Magic Trixie book © 2008 Jill Thompson.

Magic Trixie approaches the reader-identification dynamic differently, in that the little girl is the niftily powered sorceress (in training). Like their creator, she and Scary Godmother both have curly orange hair — though Magic Trixie likes to turn hers pink — but her family is central to the action, whereas Hannah Marie's parents were barely seen. Trixie lives in a very vertical, multi-generational building that also houses the family business, a café called Elixir. As she tells her classmates, along with her mom, dad, teenaged cousin Tansy, and grandma-in-denial MiMi, "I also have a Grampy and Gramberry, and an Uncle Monkey and Noodle Lou. Then there's Dead Papa. He lives at the cemetery." If that isn't funny or kid-friendly enough for you, stay away, because our little leading lady also conjures ectoplasm out her nose and, in the central plot of the first book, jealously decides to pull some serious hoodoo on her baby sister, Abby Cadabra.

With the first book's sibling jealousy resolved, another lesson is learned in Magic Trixie Sleeps Over. Trixie prefers spell-o-vision before bed ("I wanna see the killer robot and the swimsuit lady that gots a big sword," she says; my nieces will relate) to a bath ("Who sculpted a likeness of Scratches [the cat] out of her mashed potatoes at dinner?" "I only used my hands for the face part! And for eating"). Once she hears that her friends have very different evening rituals, well, Magic Trixie sleeps over, providing a series of inventive vignettes. Stitch Patch, made in a lab, snacks on batteries and is tucked into a series of glass jars each night; Egyptian princess Nefi, a mummy, is freshly rewrapped and partakes of oils but no food; the Twins, vampires, retire to the ghostly graveyard; and Loupie Garou, werewolf girl, roughhouses with her brothers and howls and the moon, exhausting even the hyperkinetic Trixie. Home, naturally, starts sounding pretty sweet.

Magic Trixie shares some thoughts in the first person on her own blog, linked to at the top of this post. While sadly not updated since December, it features an introduction to the cast, panels from the books and original artwork throughout —including a glimpse at the next volume, Magic Trixie and the Dragon, due in June. I can't wait to devour my copy before the nieces get here.

You can see excerpts from Magic Trixie [ISBN 978-0-06117-045-4] and Magic Trixie Sleeps Over [ISBN 978-0-06117-048-5] via Amazon's Look Inside feature. Copies should also be in stock at good comic-book shops and children's booksellers, if you're lucky enough to have any in your area, and if not the all-ages graphic-novel display at Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million is well worth supporting. Blam's Blog will receive a small referral fee from Amazon purchases made through the links in this paragraph. 

Characters and titles TM Jill Thompson.

No comments: