When Jamie S. Rich sent me a preview of Spell Checkers volume 1, so we could interview him about it, it sat unopened until the day before the interview. Jamie’s last book (You Have KIlled Me) made my top 5 list, and had the best voice for all of last year. The sharp wit and biting dialogue instantly captured my imagination and add to that Joelle Jones’ noir tone, I was in hardboiled detective movie nirvana.
So, now I have to read some crap about not only teenage girls, but teenage witches? It is well known around the STR offices that I am no fan of the occult. I had had my fill of vampires with the Anne Rice craze of the 90′s and werewolves will always be lame. But magic, magic is the worst. It can be fun I will admit that, but as a general rule I stay as far away from magic stories as I can. This is the mindset that I have reading Spell Checkers.
Where did it all go wrong? I was expecting Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or Harry Potter teen years…Instead I got Heathers, and I love me some Heathers. Immediately, we are introduced to two of our protagonists engaging in one of many verbal sparring matches. How Jamie manages to capture the dialogue of a 15 year old alpha female I do not want to know, but I found it to be a spot-on version of the catty bitches at my high school.
What makes this book so much fun is that it neither takes itself seriously nor winks at the reader expectantly. With all the ways it could have gone wrong Rich plays on the edge of the precipice with out dangling over. The humor ranges from sophomoric to academic, there will be jokes that are over your head and some that hit below the belt. This is the true genius of the writing, it never felt stale. The jokes and the dialogue kept peppering different parts of my funny bone.
The art duties are shared by Joelle Jones and relative new comer Nico Hitori De. Nico pencils the main story and Joelle fills in the flashbacks to define a contrast between timelines. The character design is what really makes this book. Seeing hip 15 year old girls enhances the snappy dialogue and sets the tone for story. With Nico’s euro/manga style the look feels fresh and contrasts nicely with Joelle’s flashback scenes.
This book is the opposite of the hardboiled detective story Jamie and Joelle told last year but still hits all the right notes. There are going to be at least two more volumes and I have high expectations for them. The format is the Scott Pilgram (Manga) digest size and at 12 dollars it is a satisfying read. Spell Checkers is a most fun I have had this year. If you don’t like fun, live in southeast Portland and listen to indie music. But, if you like fun… buy this book.