Reviews | Written by Fred McNamara 07/10/2019
PUMPKINHEADS / AUTHOR: RAINBOW ROWELL / ILLUSTRATOR: FAITH ERIN HICKS / PUBLISHER: FIRST SECOND / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOWRainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks are well-versed in creating bright, accessible comics and novels targeted at children and young adults. Hicks has been writing and drawing kid-centric works since the late 1990s, whilst Rowell’s success as an author of several YA novels has led to her writing for Marvel’s The Runaways. The duo have now teamed up via comics publisher First Second to deliver Pumpkinheads, a jovial, intimate, and thoroughly sweet exploration of young love, peppered with some pleasingly progressive ideas throughout.Pumpkinheads sees two best friends Deja and Josiah spend one last time working together at DeKnocks’ World Famous Pumpkin Patch and Autumn Jamboree before they move off to college. A race against time ensues when Deja leads Josiah across the gargantuan, Disneyland-esque pumpkin patch, tracking down the girl he’s been too scared and too infatuated with to speak to for three years. Through this charming, quirky friendship between Deja and Josiah, Pumpkinheads finds no difficulty in whipping up a breezy, humorous tone that’s warm and welcoming to the reader.Rowell’s story leaps from page to page with warm, sly humour. Her mixture of bisexual characters is a handsome touch. However, for a comic about a race against time, it’d oddly languid in its pace. It isn’t until the comic’s final pages that the twist in the tale emerges, and paints a totally separate picture of Pumpkinheads, and in doing so explaining and justifying its cool, detached pace. Without spoiling the story too much, its premise ultimately isn’t what the comic is about at all, and it shoots for something enjoyably different that’s highlights the comic’s potent playfulness. Unrequited love is at the heart of Pumpkinheads, but not in the way you’d expect.Faith’s artwork is clean, slick and vibrant. Her colours in particular evoke a suitable autumnal mood, but also add a handsome progression of time. The events of the comic span a single evening, meaning that the transition from afternoon to evening is subtly illuminated. It’s a slight but clever tactic Pumpkinheads uses to communicate the urgency of its story. Overall, Faith crafts a subdued, melancholic haze for Pumpkinheads, one that envelops itself around Rowell’s story to great effect.A light, gently-tuned atmosphere defines Pumpkinheads. It’s a simple tale of complex emotions, as its relatable characters navigate their feelings for each other within a story that’s spryly told and exquisitely drawn. Given that this is the first of two books Faith and Rainbow will be producing for First Second Books, we can’t wait for what they’ll conjure up next.