(Greentea Publishing, 2014)
Written by Vera Greentea
Art and Colors by Laura Muller
Letters by Adam Wollet
When last we left the children of Mexico City they were in the midst of the Day of the Dead ceremony…with one who was very likely of the dead. Greentea Publishing has released the second of its four issue series Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits, and it answers some questions while asking still more.
Vera Greentea has written a modern fairytale in the story of Nenetl, based on the Mexican folk belief that a person can die three deaths. The first is when your body dies, the second when that person is buried, and the third when the dead are forgotten by those left behind.
Beautifully illustrated by Laura Muller, the second volume tells the story of how the spirit was brought to this world, through the folly and innocence of children, and how they are tasked with sending it back. This spirit wanders in search of a soul, someone who will light a candle for her each year in remembrance. She has chosen Bastian, the boy we met in the first book who has now gone missing. The children tell what they’ve done to Father Eduardo, who tells them that their only hope is to find Nenetl before she flees back to the land of the dead with Bastion’s soul.
Muller has a style that is part anime and manga, part Pixar, all lovely. She uses a blend of colors that reflect the natural tones of a small Mexican village and contrasts that with the colorful sights seen during the Day of the Dead festival. While many pencillers also ink their own work nowadays (can I use “nowadays” convincingly in 2014?), and most colorists working separately from the penciller/inker, having one person that does the complete art on a project translates to a cohesive style. Of course it’s possible for any team to get a cohesive look, but with one person there is solidity from the start, based in their style and skill, that cannot be overlooked when trying to produce a Kickstarted project. Laura Muller has that solidity that makes this book look just as good as it reads.
Adam Wollet letters this book, and I’m not sure if this was his call or not, but each of the word balloons is colored to be cohesive in the panel. It makes each page easier on the eyes. There aren’t any white balloons that take away from the art.
Vera Greentea also lends a great deal to this partnership in that she has a firm grasp on how to write a child’s point of view in such a way that it doesn’t come off as pedantic or patronizing. It’s a skill that takes a certain frame of mind that I’ve only read a couple of times in novelized works, but you see a lot of when you read good young adult fiction. She has the ability to empathize with the younger mind, to show how important the little things can be for young people. The strength and ease of the children’s belief shapes everything they do, and Greentea shows their fearlessness and childishness at the same time when they go into the graveyard in the first place, ready to tamper with powers that they can only imagine.
What you have in Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits is the second in a four issue run, what could be four separate issues in your longbox, or four files comfortably resting somewhere on your tablet, but as a visual medium, I can only see one perfect way to read Nenetl; a gathered volume, beautifully hardbound and resting with the rest of my favorite trades. Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits is a modern folktale with an ancient twist, and executed to perfection by two outstanding artists.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.