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Light Reads for Heavy Hearts

Christine Hoxmeier

Staff Writer

Christine Hoxmeier can usually be found hard at work in her beloved home of Austin with a cup of coffee in one hand and a taco in the other. She spends her free time reading, writing, and dreaming of a teleportation device so she can visit her friends spread across the globe on a daily basis. If it were possible to live inside one Disneyland attraction for the rest of her life, Christine would cheat and choose to split her time between It's A Small World and The Enchanted Tiki Room. She prefers to communicate in CAPSLOCK and with gifs. Twitter: @aramblingfancy

I could ramble on about the many reasons and ways I have fallen in love with comics the past few years, but today I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you the secret reason I read (mostly Marvel) superhero comics: I know what’s going to happen. I know how this is all going to end, it’s just a matter of how we end up there. Carol Danvers is going to punch holes in the sky and save the day. Captain America throws his shield around, and saves the day. Clint Barton…is a dummy and will maybe help the Avengers save the day while he screws up in many other ways, but I love him for that! I like escaping into a world where evil people do bad things and, in general, the good guys defeat them and win.

But sometimes y’all, real life is just too hard and dark and I can’t handle the pretend evil unfolding on the pages I escape to every week. This is the situation I found myself in recently. I couldn’t find comfort in the familiar tropes and resolutions. I still went to the comic book store to pick up new issues, but I just brought them home and piled them into a stack. My heart was too heavy to open their pages and make sure Ms. Marvel was okay, even though I knew she would be.

Then one day, I went to my LCS, picked up the books I knew I wasn’t going to read, and started talking to the Valkyrie who was working that day. Before I knew what was happening, I was in the children’s section, and she was shoving issue one of Help Us! Great Warrior in my hands. I bought it, raced home, read it and cried, because it was exactly what I needed. This green blob named Great Warrior was going to reluctantly help save the day and her friends would be okay. I LOVED it.

I started buying more children’s comics. I finally dove into the lighter and happier comics that had been piling up in my stack. Slowly, my heart began to feel lighter. I’m still behind on my pull list reading, but I really don’t care, because there was a new Help Us! Great Warrior out last week and on the cover, she is eating pizza. Awesome.

When life is too much and your heart is heavy, these are a few light and bright books I recommend you read. I’d love to add to this list, so please tell me in the comments what comics you turn to in dark days.

Unbeatable SquiUnbeatable Squirrel Girlrrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Doreen Green is going to college to learn! She has a roommate, Nancy Whitehead, who loves knitting and her cat, Mew. Doreen is also Squirrel Girl, so she occasionally has to take down a villain with the help of her sidekick, Tippy Toe, but that’s not a problem, because, uh, did you see the title of this book? She’s the UNBEATABLE Squirrel Girl! This comic is PURE JOY. I laugh hard reading this, especially at the notes writer Ryan North leaves at the bottom on each page. The art and colors are Saturday morning fun at its best (be sure to check out Marcy Cook’s excellent post highlighting the art). This is currently six issues in, so it’s a great comic to jump on.

Bee and PuppyCatBee and PuppyCat created by Natasha Allegri

I bought this when I saw it on the new release table because the cover was purple and it was called Bee and PuppyCat. PUPPYCAT. I had no idea this collection was for a comic based on an online show, and now I’m kind of mad no one told me about it earlier. The premise is simple, Bee is a perpetually unemployed 20-something, and she finds a cat (or is it a puppy?). PuppyCat is kind of magical and they take on weird, temp jobs together. You don’t have to watch the show to read the trade, but they are really short and so funny and cute and weird and adorable, so you should probably just go watch it after you read this. The collection comprises several stand-alone stories of various lengths, my favorite of which is the single page “Dumguy”, which makes me laugh just thinking about it and alone was totally worth the $15.

Help Help Us! Great Warrior Madeline FloresUs! Great Warrior by Madeline Flores

Great Warrior is that adorable, green potato blob sporting a pink bow, wielding a heart-shaped shield and brandishing a sword with a bunny head hilt. She is called upon to fight a demon, but she’d really rather not. She’d rather run away and eat cake. I can relate to that feeling, Great Warrior. This began as a webcomic and is now a mini series over at BOOM! and I need everyone to buy this so we can get more, please and thank you.