Garlic & the Vampire | Review
Garlic & the Vampire
Writer/artist: Bree Paulsen
Quill Tree Books; $22.99
Garlic, the protagonist of Bree Paulsen’s original graphic novel Garlic & the Vampire, likes to sleep in late, and she is highly excitable and often anxious. She works at a farmer’s market, where she sells the garlic she grows to the villagers. She’s also literally garlic; her head is a big bulb of garlic with eyes and a mouth, supported by a little humanoid body.
Garlic is one of many fruit and vegetable homunculi created by the witch Agnes to help her grow things, each assigned to the bit of produce they represent.
The produce-people’s bucolic life is interrupted one day when Potato and Celery notice smoke coming from the chimney of the abandoned old castle on the mountain. Agnes tells them all that her mother said a vampire used to live there, but he disappeared over a century ago. Perhaps he has come back?
As they talk over what to do, Celery nominates Garlic to go confront the vampire, given that garlic is well known to ward against vampires. Everyone agrees. Despite the fact that there are bigger, stronger and braver people in her community, Garlic is naturally the best-suited to the task. Agnes outfits her little gardening helper with a tiny little stake and hammer, some magical aid and even a raven to ride to the castle on…as well as insisting that Celery go with Garlic.
As it turns out, there really is a vampire in the castle, the same one from a century ago who has returned from his decades of travel. He doesn’t need to be destroyed, however. At the risk of oversimplifying Paulsen’s quite straightforward story, he’s a friendly vampire, and one who happens to share an interest in gardening with Agnes and her produce people.
That’s the way things often go with our fears, though. They are at their scariest at first, and often it’s harder to gather one’s courage to face them than it is to actually face them. Many times, the possibilities we were most worried about turn out not to even be true, and the scary thing isn’t nearly as scary as we expected.
In that regard, Paulsen’s gentle fairy tale is a pretty perfect allegory for dealing with anxiety, and Garlic is able to conquer her fears through a combination of her own courage and sense of duty and the help of loved ones, like her supportive best friend Carrot and Agnes, the latter of whom gives her practical tools to meet her challenge.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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