Once upon a time (on the day before Christmas) a young girl named Penny Dora found a mysterious box on her front doorstep. A magic box with the power to grant wishes. Which sounded great…until Penny Dora found herself face-to-face with a horde of fire-breathing dragons, oodles of monsters and at least seven dwarves…all thanks to the girl she used to call best friend, now known as Princess Elizabeth.
Feel free to groan when you read the title, I know I did. It’s a terrible pun, but fortunately it is also the worst thing about Penny Dora. And interestingly enough, the similarities between Penny Dora and Pandora pretty much end with there being a magical box involved in the story. Michael Stock would have served the story much better by leaving the mythological reference off. The story would stand well enough on it’s own. One great thing about this story is that like the work of J.K. Rowling, it can be enjoyed by nearly any age group with equanimity. I like to think that is the mark of a great book.
The script for Penny Dora is both inventive and fun. There are more than a few plot twists that take the reader in moderately unexpected places. The characters may be a little cliched at times but this is much in the keeping of a fairy tale. The dialogue and plot more than makes up for a tiny bit of weakness here. One minor complaint with the writing is that there is a specific hook at the end that isn’t immediately obvious to the reader. I did have to read through a second and third time to get it. It could be that I am just dense, but more likely that the ending could have received a bit more polish.
One of the biggest selling point for this comic is Sina Grace’s art. Had another talent been involved this might have just been a mediocre work. Grace manages to blend contemporary comic book art with a fairy tale quality to render a truly unique look and feel. Certain panels are just brilliant in their execution, specifically in chapter one where Penny, her mother and the cat all have thought bubbles showing what they wish for, the effect is stellar and whimsical and pretty much sold the whole book for me. This trade paperback collects chapters 1 – 5 of Penny Dora, as well as an introduction to how the story came about by the author, an interview with the author and finally his daughter’s original notes, not to mention a variant cover or two. A worthy buy indeed, perhaps just what you were wishing for. But quit while you are ahead or you may get in too deep.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.