Review: Ghosted in L.A. #1

Moving to a new city is tough. Starting college is tough. Breaking up with your boyfriend and losing your best friend in a matter of weeks is also tough. So what’s college freshman Daphne to do? Just what anyone in this situation would do – find some new friends and use this as a chance for reinvention, to find oneself after being under the identities of others for way too long.

There’s just one difference: All her new friends are dead.

“Ghosted in L.A.” #1 does what any good series debut should do: introduces the characters, setting, and motivation for the central plot. And Sina Grace packs in a good deal of that exposition, without making the reader feel overwhelmed or rushed. In both overt and subtle ways we know just what we need to know about Daphne: she’s Jewish (which provides some conflict with her evangelical Christian roommate), she came to this college to follow her boyfriend, and she has a bit of a love-hate relationship with her best friend. Indeed, these are story elements seen time and again., But Grace does all this with humor and heart, so by the time Daphne’s main players in her life – – the boyfriend and the best friend – – are out of it, you want her to execute revenge by just simply living the best possible California girl life she can.

There’s only a brief introduction to the supernatural aspects of this story, as we meet the ghosts who become Daphne’s new best friends at the very end of this issue. But that’s okay. Right now, this is Daphne’s story, and we’ll only understand it (and her relationships) within her lens, so I’m more than okay with only just getting to meet our spectral friends in the final pages of the issue. There’s plenty of time to get to know Pam, Blair, and all the other ghosts of Rycroft Manor. We’re on the same journey of self-discovery as Daphne is, and Grace makes sure we’re going to enjoy every step of it.

Grace also assists artist Siobhan Keenan and colorist Cathy Le on artwork, and the three together give everything the Los Angeles polish and vibrancy, along with the character focus present in the script. Our art team plays with the passage of time in ways that subtly advance our script. The shift in color from sepia toned Montana to Technicolor Los Angeles presents a natural shift in story that is a visual buffet. Daphne’s wait for her classmates in the common room of the dorm shows that long wait not just in the change in the sky, but in the change in the population in the room, heightening the sense of isolation she’s starting to feel, that isolation which certainly steers what will happen next.

The art has the look and feel of another BOOM! Studios property, “Giant Days,” but with a little more realism in face and body features. There’s fair representation of all kinds of body types and ethnicities, from one ghost rocking the dad bod to another with a beautiful natural afro. The art team does well at providing corporeal forms for the non-corporeal residents, coloring them in shades of blue to distinguish them as ghosts from the story’s human elements, but still having them retain the basic forms and shapes of humanity. For the most part, backgrounds are sparse, and with the character focus of this issue, that’s okay.

Now there isn’t much to be hinted at in terms of queer content in this first issue, save for a passing look at what appears to be two men in a relationship on Daphne’s college roommate Michelle’s laptop. (Of course I’m left wondering if Michelle herself is closeted, given this and the strong Christian iconography in her dorm room.) What I do know from Sina Grace’s run on “Iceman” is how he slowly and organically introduced the revelations of Bobby Drake’s sexuality. No doubt if he has such elements planned out for this story, he’ll do the same here.

When people ask me what I like most about Sina Grace’s work, I always say that it’s his ability to write heart and humor in equal measure, allowing each to play off of the other, and to do so in a way that appeals to all ages. “Ghosted in L.A.” continues that trend, and adds in a fun twist to refresh already established story tropes. With BOOM! Studios’s “Giant Days” ending later this year, this looks to be the heir apparent to fill the Daisy, Susan, and Esther shaped hole in your heart. 

Kickstarter We’re Into: Masked Prejudice

“You’d be a better superhero if only you smiled more.”

How many of us cringed when Captain Marvel was told by that biker to smile more in her titular film? (And how many of us cheered when she got back at that biker?)

Prejudice and hate take all kinds of forms, from the outright violent to the subtle. The new anthology Masked Prejudice looks at those who experience the hate and fear before the cape and tights. Set in a world where those with super powers are targets of government sanctioned fear and violence tactics, Masked Prejudice shows what has happened two years later: some heroes are (reluctantly) working for their government, others live in isolation.

The project is the brainchild of Oxford Comics founder and former comic book retailer Jason Conover. He and several of his friends and co-workers at New York City’s Midtown Comics spent some time brainstorming a shared superhero universe. When most of the characters developed turned out to be queer characters, Conover realized he had a work on his hands that could serve as a metaphor for what marginalized communities face on a daily basis – – in an accessible, understandable superhero format.

“A resurgence of bigotry and hatred seems to be spreading after the previous presidential election. Each day seemed to bring another news story that filled me with anxiety: tiki torch rallies, school shootings, and a rise in suicide among young people,” Conover says on his Kickstarter page. “We wanted to take all that raw emotion, all that pent up frustration, and express it into this anthology.”

The anthology will be in full color with 13 stories from such writers and artists as:

  • Felipe Cunha (Return to Whisper)
  • Sebastián Piriz (Headspace)
  • Rodrigo Urbano (Heavy Metal)
  • Ellie Wright (Elvira)
  • Mike Garley (Adventure Time)
  • Geeks OUT’s own Joe Glass (The Pride)
Interior art

Pledges start at $1, with $20 getting you a digital copy of the anthology. Among the awards you can receive:

  • Digital art by Rodrigo Urbano
  • Physical copy of our trade paperback
  • 9″x12″ art print by Sebastián Piriz
  • 1.5″ enamel pin designed by Christopher Waugh
  • 4″x6″ sketch card drawn on by our artists
  • A cosplay-level domino mask

Retailer-level tiers are also available, and some of the higher end tiers include a portfolio review (script or artwork), and the opportunity to be drawn into one of the panels.

Estimated delivery on the anthology will be October 2019. As of this writing, the campaign is 39% funded, with 12 days to go. View and back the campaign here, and remember: no one has to right to tell you to smile.