Pat Shand brings his game face to Family Pets, a creator-owned series steeped in the same fantastical and fairy tale quality as his work on ongoing series Charmed and Grimm Fairy Tales.
Central character Thomasina is an intellectual and sullen high school student wearing her troubles like a backpack. She’s at odds with her adoptive family - her aunt, uncle and cousins and tech savvy granny - after her parents died on her fifth birthday. She wakes one morning to find her pet snake Sebastian has turned into a dapper English chap and her family into animals. With Sebastian’s help, she has to get to the bottom of the wizarding mystery.
Sarah Dill’s art is like Craig Thompson’s Blankets via Disney Princesses. The simple layouts have a greyscale sparseness to them, a loneliness which conveys Thomasina’s inner struggle and yearning, like pathetic fallacy but in panels of sequential art, instead of weather.
Family Pets is an interpersonal meditation on loss, and a beautiful metaphor for isolation and bereavement. It goes after familiar touchstones and, other than its central gimmick, it doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table. Shand never goes above the sum of the story’s parts or its archetypal characters, but it’s sweetness will leave you lingering.
INFO: FAMILY PETS / AUTHOR: PAT SHAND / ARTIST: SARAH DILL / PUBLISHER: SILVER DRAGON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW