The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, by Drew Weing, (Sept. 2016, First Second), $15.99, ISBN: 9781626723399
Recommended for ages 8+
Charles F. Thompson just moved to Echo City with his family. He’s not thrilled, especially with their new digs: a creepy building his dad will be refinishing as the family lives there. Charles – an avid blogger – swears there’s a monster in his room, and he’s not wrong. Some of his toys go missing, and he knows he didn’t just misplace them. Charles is seriously freaked out: what if the monster tries to eat him?! A neighbor quietly slips him Margo Maloo’s number, and Charles’ whole world changes: Margo is a monster mediator. The monsters all know her; she knows all the monsters. She helps smooth relations between Charles and Marcus, the troll that lives in his building. Turns out Marcus is really upset that these awful humans are moving in and messing with his stuff! Once Margo sorts things out, and Charles has been exposed to this new world right under his nose, he’s hooked – freedom of the press demands that he write about this! Margo firmly puts the kibosh on Drew’s reporting, but lets him tag along on her missions. The Echo City monsters aren’t thrilled with Charles, but who knows? Maybe they’ll see Charles’ value as Margo’s assistant. After all, he and Marcus bonded over Battlebeanz toys!
Think of Charles as a kids’ Night Stalker, led by a hard-boiled, female, juvenile Philip Marlowe: She’s on a just a first-name basis with all the monsters in her town, and operates in the shadows, confidently keeping a balance between the monster world and ours. Charles is hilarious, whether he’s complaining about exotic new take-out or proclaiming that “information wants to be free!” (the librarian in me was so happy with that panel); Margo is the picture of cool and sassy, navigating both worlds with a self-assuredness most kids could only dream of, and the monsters themselves are very human: they worry about humans discovering them; they collect toys and knickknacks, and parents worry about their kids walking off when a stranger offers them candy, too. The cartoony art will appeal to kids without scaring them (or maybe, just give ’em a little frightened giggle).
There are three stories in this first volume, to start you off on the world of Margo Maloo. There are also pages from Charles’ notebook, with sketches and information about ghosts, goblins, ogres and trolls, the monsters he encounters in these first tales. If you want more Margo and can’t wait for the next volume, you don’t have to! Margo began life as a webcomic that’s still running, updating on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can check it out at http://www.drewweing.com/, and while you’re at it, discover a few more comics on the site.
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo is a fun addition to graphic novel collections, perfect for kids who are in Goosebumps mode and want something witty, a little spooky, and a lot of fun.