I somehow managed to persuade my 13 year-old to read this with me, and we were both incredibly delighted by this sweet, spunky tale of a young girl living in the middle of nowhere who discovers that magic really does exist in her life.
Ten year-old tomboy Avery helps her father run a gas station in the middle of a practically deserted desert valley. She has no friends because there are so few other people around, and none of them are her own age. When she’s not helping customers at the pumps, her main pastime is learning magic tricks, in hopes of injecting a little excitement into her humdrum existence. Her dad tries his best — he’s funny and sweet — but there’s really only so much you can do when you’re living out in isolation.
When Dad drives into town one day, leaving Avery in charge, she finds herself in need of a new lightbulb. Hoping to find one in his cluttered garage, she unearths instead an old-timey lantern. As she dusts it off, a brilliant blaze erupts from it, along with an adorable little monkey-cat hybrid named Gribblet (whom Jms and I immediately cooed over like he was a Pokemon.) Once Gribblet realizes who she is, he helps her embark on a journey that will not only show her that magic is real but that she herself is far more magical than she ever imagined.
Saying anything more about the plot would be giving too much of the inventive, charming story away, but suffice to say that my eldest child and I both thoroughly enjoyed Avery’s adventures, in large part due to the wonderful chemistry between her and Gribblet. It helps, too, that Avery is smart and independent, and makes good choices throughout. My son really enjoyed following along and cheering her on as she learned about genies and her own connection to magic.
And while we both loved the art, which is cute and kinetic and very much influenced by the illustrator’s background in animation, I don’t think my kid quite understand why I kept sighing happily over the textures used in some of the scenes here. Jeff Victor is a very smart artist who knows how to work with fine art effects to bring both life and sophistication to his already emotive panels. His artwork here could almost tell the entire story on its own: that the accompanying dialog is so fresh, witty and heartfelt only makes this debut graphic novel feel that much more accomplished.
Jms and I are big fans, and will both be looking forward to reading and enjoying much more of Mr Victor’s work, whether it be the sequel to this (which may be the first in a series?) or some other unrelated comic. Given how picky my kid is when it comes to reading, that’s one heck of a compliment.
You Wish by Jeff Victor was published January 9 2023 by Top Shelf Productions and is available from all good booksellers, including