Farel Dalrymple is a cartoonist and creator of The Wrenchies from First Second Books, and IT WILL ALL HURT from Study Group Comics. Delusional (Adhouse, 2013), is a collection of personal work, comic short stories, and illustrations. Farel was the artist on Omega the Unknown (Marvel Comics, 2010), with writer Jonathan Lethem. His creator-owned comic book, Pop Gun War was a Xeric Grant recipient and won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators. Farel is also a co-founder and contributor to the comic anthology, Meathaus. and is currently working on Pop Gun War: Chain Letter appearing in ISLAND magazine from Image Comics.

Experienced dungeon mistress MK Reed is the author of the graphic novels Americus, the Cute Girl Network (First Second) and the Palefire with art by Farel Dalyrmple (Secret Acres). She also writes and draws the web comic About A Bull. Her work can be found in anthologies like Papercutter, the Big Feminist But, and the Swedish magazine, Galago. Americus was the winner of NAIBA’s 2012 Carla Cohen Free Speech Award, and was a 2011 American Booksellers for Children’s New Voices title. The first chapter was nominated for an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Story in 2008 after its inclusion in Papercutter 7. MK lives in Portland, Oregon, with a very tall nurse.


In indie-comics terms, this is what you might consider a star-studded collaboration. MK Reed is the author of successful young adult graphic novels like The Cute Girl Network, and Farel Dalrymple is the artist behind last year’s acclaimed epic graphic novel The Wrenchies. Together, they have released a slim, black-and-white graphic novella sure to appeal to teenage readers looking to see themselves reflected in an all-too-realistic drama.

Palefire opens with a young girl asking her mom for permission to go out on a date with a guy who seems to have a reputation for trouble. Not only is her mom hesitant about it, but everyone else in her life tries to warn her off of him too. Reed and Dalrymple do a good job of capturing the uncertainty of teenage dating and of trying to make decisions at an age when you want to weigh what you already know about yourself against what you want to find out for sure.

– mental_floss

Palefire is a short and smart comics story made by a writer and an artist who clearly remember what it’s like to be teenagers: How your emotions can turn on a dime, how little mistakes can have lasting marks, and how sometimes your friends’ disapproval is exactly what it takes for you to want something even more. When Darren makes a unique sort of offering to show Alison just how he feels, the response isn’t quite what he expects. And when Paul comes to the rescue, the results aren’t quite what a reader might hope. But that’s what teenagers do: frustrate the adults in their lives, because we want what’s best for them even if they don’t.

– Slate

Everyone in the story is flawed. Dalrymple is adept at making the worst tendencies of each character evident simply through his visual representations without doing it in an obvious way. The way Tim dresses and stands betrays his awkwardness. Darren’s posture makes him look like a predator. Alison’s trusting nature is revealed through the way she sat relative to Darren. Reed cleverly upset expectations that might have been created thanks to teen-story cliches, as sometimes it is best to trust the instincts and experience of others.

– Rob Clough, High-Low

In this charming tale, Reed and Hill offer a lovely valentine to readers and, especially, to librarians. Neil Barton is an outcast about to enter high school in the conservative small town of Americus. His life is made bearable by books—especially the fantasy series the Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, the Huntress Witch — and the young adult librarian, Charlotte, who gives him a job and someone to talk to. Even those pleasures are threatened when some vocal members of the community begin a campaign to ban the Ravenchilde series, arguing they promote witchcraft and other illicit behavior. Soon all of Americus is involved in the battle, lining up on one side or the other, with Charlotte leading the charge for intellectual freedom. As Neil develops confidence through the fight, he also finds a circle of friends. Woven throughout are excerpts from the Ravenchilde story, echoing the theme of the struggle in Americus. Hill’s black and white illustrations, full of clean, bold lines, fill the tale with a sense of drama and action, even when the characters are reading silently. Americus is ultimately a reminder of the small miracles a good book can conjure up, in individual lives and across communities.

– Publishers Weekly

Network supports a nicely-varied cast, in terms of ethnicity, body type, and personality, and the book has things to say beyond its immediate plot, with a strong undercurrent encouraging the reader to go his or her own way and to treat others with respect. The writing is sharp and funny, with a fine Twilight parody scattered throughout and bonused in the last few pages. The book seems, on the whole, like an excellent thing to give to your teenage daughter/cousin/sister who reads Rookie and has a mind of her own.

– Paste Magazine

Going into Americus, I hadn’t actually known anything about the plot at all, but I was immediately drawn into it and ended up reading it in one sitting. Reed has a knack for dialogue that sounds real — scenes where people are talking past each other or large crowds are a combination of multiple conversations ring true — and Hill’s drawings have a fluidity that looks simple but conveys the emotions of the characters clearly. As somebody who was short and bookish in junior high, I could definitely relate to Neil (though my circumstances weren’t anywhere as bad as his). And now, as somebody who has worked at a public library and has encountered parents who are vehemently against the Harry Potter series, I could also relate to that aspect of the story… …If you’ve ever had to defend your decision to let your kids read Harry Potter (or some other book), you’ll probably enjoy this.


The battle over banning books like the Harry Potter series because of “occult” themes is familiar from the headlines, and Americus watches a similar battle unfold. But it’s not just about the culture war between groups that would not suffer a witch book to live and those looking to protect their favorite books. It’s also about the power of literature, and the strength some people find in defending it.

– io9

Dalrymple’s art is impeccable, capturing the horrors of demons that routinely spear eyeballs and great swarms of parasitic insects that can crawl into ears and need to be killed by swords and/or knives; it’s beautiful, dreamy and nightmarishly violent. Think of this as an insidiously macabre Coraline-esque tale meets Charles Burns.

– Kirkus

Incredible. A deeply personal epic … a book that calls for re-readings.

– Craig Thompson, on Farel Dalrymple’s the Wrenchies

AMAZING. Beautiful drawing and painting, great characters – it’s pretty much everything I could want a graphic novel to be.

– Mike Mignola, on Farel Dalrymple’s the Wrenchies

The alienation of being different, the delight of finding a group of people that share your passions, the wonder and confusion of entering a strange new world are all interpreted on a grand scale that combines extraordinary spectacle with intimate emotion. And this spectacle is truly incredible.

– Onion A.V. Club



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