You think you have family problems? Check out Silver Dragon's Family Pets!

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Family Pets

Written by: Pat Shand
Art by: Sarah Dill
Lettered by: Jim Campbell

Published by: Silver Dragon Books
Cover Price: $9.99
Trade Contains Family Pets 1-6

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

When Thomasina was five years old, her parents died in a car crash, forcing her to live with her grandmother, who insists on being called Abuela, even though she's not Hispanic. Later on Thomasina and Abuela had to move in her Aunt Veronica and Uncle Billy and their kids.

When this book starts, 16-year old Thomasina sort of feels like an outsider. Thomasina’s only friends are her snake, Sebastian, and her neighbor, Smitty. It turns out that Smitty is part of a long line of wizards and for his entrance exam to Wholebrink Academy, he had to do a big spell. He tried to turn a bird into a person, but the spell bleeded over into Thomasina’s house. Sebastian was turned into a person, and Thomasina’s family were all turned into animals.

Thomasina and Smitty head into the “other word” to find help. The head of the Academy says that Smitty must reverse the spell in 48 hours, or it will be permanent. Meanwhile, Sebastian has followed them into the magic world. He likes being human and doesn’t want the spell to be reversed.

This was a real good trade. The characters were really well developed.  While there were some hints of Harry Potter or Amelia Cole here, it was still a very original story. I also loved that while there was magic, the main character was basically just a normal girl living a normal life. I kept waiting for a twist where she was really a wizard too, but instead they kept it simple, and this was a stronger book for it.

Pat Shand has been writing the CHARMED comic for a while, so I was expecting something a little darker and more mature. That made this book a real happy surprise. I enjoy the CHARMED comic quite a bit, but I am always looking for more all-ages comics with a light-hearted tone, and FAMILY PETS fit that mold perfectly.  I also like how they explained why Abuela and Thomasina were the only ones that didn’t change. They could have hand waved it away, but they seemed determined to ensure the reader was completely satisfied. I appreciate that kind of thoroughness.

The art on this book was great too. It was cartoony, but there was still a ton of great detail. The characters all had real distinctive looks. There was some unusual style choices here. When there were long shots, sometimes the characters seemed to lose their facial features, but when that happened, there was usually something else you were supposed to be looking at (like magical Times Square). I was reminded of a TV show where the scene goes slightly out of focus, so your attention falls on one character in particular. The art style fit this book perfectly.

I did have one complaint about this book, but it’s not unique to FAMILY PETS. Why are so many fictional characters orphans? Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Peter Parker, Amelia Cole, Bruce Wayne, I could go on and on. It is such a strange cliché to me. It didn’t effect my enjoyment of FAMILY PETS, but I still groaned when I read that Thomasina’s parents died in a car crash (it was literally the first line of the book).  Can't any character in fiction grow up with their parents?

FAMILY PETS is a just about a perfect graphic novel. It’s nice when you can get a complete story in 6 issues for less than 10 bucks. That doesn’t happen much anymore, everyone seems to be looking to use mini-series to launch longer stories. Granted there is some space for a sequel here, but I still think we got a perfect, self-contained story here. Highly recommended!

 

Title: FAMILY PETS
Written By: Pat Shand
Art By: Sarah Dill
Company: Silver Dragon
Price: $9.99
Pros:
  • Great art style that fits the story perfectly
  • Strong, unique characters
  • A great story and a very satisfying conclusion
  • A terrific all-ages books!
Cons:
  • Why is every fictional character seem to be an orphan??
Is it worth your $9.99? Yes!  This was a great story and a great value!  I don't know much about Silver Dragon comics, but if this is the quality of work they put out, I would like to see more from them.  
Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0