Penny Palabras is an interesting comic, not quite like anything I’ve read so far. It’s a story about a girl who can see ghosts, and one in particular, although not posing any direct threat to her, is getting on her nerves. She goes to the local library and a gun shop to find a means of defeating The Straw Man.


Penny Palabras issue 1 img 1The first instalment of Penny Palabras is certainly intriguing. We don’t learn much, except this thing called The Straw Man is annoying Penny, who happens to be able to see ghosts. She wants a means to destroy him, and on her journey, several mysterious hooks grab the reader. She is described one point as a ‘hollow girl’ and the Straw Man is a great presence by itself.

The comic is presented through Penny’s often dry voice and it trawls through her memories from time to time to give the reader a bit more insight. I found that sometimes these flashbacks were confusing and it took me a few reads of Penny’s monologue to find out what was truly happening. Strangely enough, it felt more like reading a novel rather than a comic – words and text in this comic are more effective than the pictures.

Em’s POV
Penny lives in a strange world. She can see ghosts and she’s friends with a librarian that knows and accepts this. Her school library has books on the supernatural in its basement – similar to the situation that develops over the course of Buffy the Vampire SlayerBut unlike Buffy in the beginning, Penny is someone who has accepted her “gift”. The mature nature of Penny as a character seems at odds with her age. she’s 17 and already an old soul, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
EmcouldbebetterThe thing I most enjoyed about reading this first issue is that you’re presented with an unreliable narrator. Penny’s take on everything can’t be trusted. We never see The Straw Man directly threatening her, but for her he is a problem. And I hope that things remain not too clear cut in subsequent issues. This is worth a flick through.

Penny Palabras issue 1 img 2A world of black and white

Penny Palabras is dark. Using an exclusive pallet of greys, this isn’t really what I like, and why I think the writing stood out more, both as a narrative strand and the way it was coloured. The only colour was on the cover! I’m not really a fan of the cartoony style and the lack of visual interest puts the focus on reading the words. Saying that, my favourite page is the last one, with the spooky grandma at the bus stop, along with a great quote.

Intriguing characters

Although Penny’s monologue is fairly easy to read there must be something I’m missing in the other bits of dialogue, which, much like the plot, is sometimes confusing to read. The characters are intriguing and they make me want to read on – I would like to find out more about the titular character and the mysterious, shadowy Straw Man.

Misc-goodWorth a read?

This is an interesting graphic novel, and although I’m not completely convinced by the artwork and often monotonous tones, the story is interesting and I would like to find out more.

Penny Palabras Episode 1: The Spectacular Revolver is out now and available in various digital formats. The reviewers were provided a digital copy of the comic from its writer for this review.