Self-published series “Mystery Club” introduces us to Amy Abnobotchi, a ten-year-old girl living in a fantastical world alongside aliens, talking animals and other curious characters of all shapes and sizes. Throughout the course of these four volumes, we get to see Amy and her rather odd group of friends (and frenemies) attending the world famous ‘Club Festival’, meeting celebrities and doing their best to solve any mysteries they stumble upon. It’s charming, fun and lively throughout, and it’s easy to see the enthusiasm of its creator – twelve year old Amy Tucker – bursting through in practically every page.
Let’s face it, most of us will have doodled some crazy characters on scraps of paper in our time, and some of us may have even taken the time to come up with little stories featuring them. But for a twelve-year-old to put such an incredible amount of effort into creating not one, not two, not three but four volumes of this series makes me, a lifelong comic book fan, feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Oh, and a little bit ashamed that I didn’t have the work ethic to do something similar myself when I was younger.
Younger readers will get a kick out of the humour on display here, with grumpy, comically violent Amy reacting badly to any perceived criticism or doubting of her “cuteness”, and all manner of quirky, Adventure Time-esque shenanigans taking place throughout the course of the series.
Visually, Tucker’s character designs are striking and her layouts are surprisingly polished. Everything flows smoothly for the most part, and any initial teething problems with the structure and style are gradually ironed out over time. It’s perhaps a tiny bit disappointing that the interior pages don’t have the same vibrant colours as the covers, but it’s also entirely understandable given the additional amount of time and effort this would require.
Are there occasional rough edges along the way? Of course there are. But perhaps the most impressive thing for me about this series is being able to watch its creator growing as both an artist and a storyteller over the course of these four volumes. With every book the stories become smoother, the dialogue sharper, the layouts cleaner and the characters designs more and more inventive. It’s fantastic to see a young comic creator finding their feet like this, and this kind of rapid-fire improvement bodes incredibly well for her future in the comic book business.
Honestly, and I really can’t state this enough, this is exactly the kind of thing the world of comics needs more of. Passionate, hard-working youngsters who clearly love every single thing about what they’re doing. The comic industry can sometimes feel like a bit of a joyless place, with an overwhelming pressure to shift units and an over-reliance on dark, brooding elements that frequently sap the pleasure out of the medium. In that respect, Mystery Club is a real breath of fresh air – a comic made for the sheer love of comics – and Amy Tucker deserves all the credit and encouragement in the world for creating such a fun, lively world.
Bring on volume five!
You can order yourself a copy of the first four volumes of Mystery Club, and find out more about the series, on the OFFICIAL WEBSITE.