Writer & Artist: Keezy Young/ Letterer: AW’s Tom Napolitano/ Roar (Lion Forge)
Editor’s Note: This is an Advance Review, if it piques your interest be sure to pre-order the comic, due for release this September.
If you’re a fan of webcomics, then Keezy Young’s name and art might be famillar to you. I’m familiar with her Yellow Hearts webcomic running on Sparker Monthly. Once upon a time Taproot was a webcomic, and it has evolved to its final form, Young’s first graphic novel — an LGBT character driven drama that you should pick up. Having read the earlier version of this work and reading this newer, updated version I can assure you this version is even better than the original: remastered and ready for new fans to read and love.
While describing Taproot, I’d hate to pidegonhole it…this comic is many things: it’s a queer love story, it’s a story of growth, of the transitions in life (AND after) and maturity. Before I forget — it’s also a ghost story! Blue is in love with his best friend Hamal, who is good with his hands and works with all manner of plants and things that grow out of the earth. It is Hamal’s calling. His gift. Blue is very much dead and Hamal can see ghosts. Yup, that’s Hamal’s other gift.
There’s a strange and very dark phenomenon happening that’s unsettling the inbetween-ers like Blue and starting to seep into the physical realm where Humans reside, and it is something connected to Hamal. Good natured, sweet Hamal who is as generous with his time with folks who are flesh and blood as he is with the many ghosts that haunt the area. Blue isn’t one hundred percent sure of who or what it is, this void, this dark place that is overgrowing but when he learns Hamal may be affected by it he steps out to attempt to do something about it.
After rereading the comic, I’m still on the fence on what makes this book stand out more to me: the artwork or the story? Young’s art is fluid. Blue, Hamal, and the world they inhabit is gorgeously illustrated but not overpowering or seeking to overwhelm you. You can easily pick up visual clues to who is who and who belongs to what club: supernatural or human. Panels that are less detailed that may include a comedic moment or where someone is being cheeky don’t ease into the background. The use of color can’t be underestimated here: the majority of this book is more or less brightly colored and when it’s not it’s a visual clue that something isn’t right, something is out of sync and it leads the reader to new dilemmas and fears.
I think back on the story: I think about how loving someone can make you fearless, make you selfless. What is it about love that makes you want to protect the one you adore even at the expense of yourself? Even when you have no clear guarantee of what will happen to you afterwards? These are just a few important questions woven into the comic that should resonate with readers.
Perhaps you could draw parallels with Blue being stuck in one place for so long with being complacent, being comfortable but choosing to give all that up for someone. Someone he loves. Being courageous in the face of the unknown. Perhaps Hamal’s life is one you could see more of yourself in: choosing to make lemonade with the lot he’s been given in life and finding out he’s been granted something, no someone far more precious than he’d ever thought he’d be allowed.
The emotional weight is surely heavy here: how will love change you? How will love center you to accept the things you have no control over? How will loving someone mature you to take the steps to stand and become the person you need to be for the one who love most?
Originally, Taproot wasn’t long–the first version clocked in under 100 pages. I never minded because Young wrapped it up so well with an ending that I didn’t see coming. Here with pages redrawn and with an super fun epilogue that wasn’t in the original–it shines with a remastered look and feel. I can’t stress enough how much I loved this book.
I’m a sucker for romance, characters that have dealings with the supernatural and circumstances that aren’t black and white — when things are clearly so far out of our hands. Taproot is a beautiful tale of how love can power us in all the best ways, make us selfless, even seek to right the wrongs and heal what’s been wrecked.
10 Texted Messaged Grimores out of 10
You can pre-order Taproot from Amazon but also know that you can pre-order through your local comic book shop as well! Wouldn’t you love to see this in comic book stores everywhere? Let’s make that happen! See more of the offerings from Roar, an imprint of Lion Forge!