June 28, 2013


This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
The Grove Nymph
Creator: Jecaro 
4/5 stars
I've had the monomyth on my mind lately. I've been catching glimpses of the hero's journey story structure seemingly in everything I read and watch (and occasionally eat -- but that's another thing altogether). It's weird and a little unsettling. Perhaps the universe is trying to goad me into embarking on some sort of personal transformation, or maybe it's preparing me for what is to become of my son as he gets older. I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel about signs and portents anyway. Regardless, the world seems beset by quests of late.

Jecaro's The Grove Nymph #1 fits right into this set of circumstances. The story revolves around a grove nymph named Mira who has been lounging around a freshwater spring with her sister, Mari, for 100 years. For some unexplained reason, she suddenly finds herself possessed with some get-up-and-go, a desire for the new, an urge for change, a call to adventure. She leaves the comfort of her home and hearth and ventures into the unknown. Stomp, stomp, stomp -- lockstep through the stages of the hero's journey.

The Grove Nymph's creator, Jecaro, has little need for subtlety in his storytelling as he starts marching us through the myth. Mira eats a single pomegranate seed, saves a Pom Sprite named Papapom from a Root Goblin, meets Mama Socotra, agrees to help Mama Socotra save her kidnapped daughters, is given two arrows, and, with Papapom as her guide, embarks further into the woods. This is a three issue series, supposedly, and we are a third into our story.
There's an innocence and an enthusiasm to Jecaro's writing. It's almost as if he has only just heard about the monomyth structure and is anxious to get his ideas into the formula as quickly as he can. The pacing is almost frenetic, but, given the familiarity of the story, the reader is right there with him. 

Still, there's the hint that there may be something else going on. There are clues of some sort of thematic heft that over-leap the basic structure of the all-too-familiar journey/quest, and this is why I am drawn to this book. Our first hint that there is more to this story is Mama Socotra's quiet regret for having had her life changed by eating the pomegranate seeds (harking back, of course, to the story of Persephone and Hades -- and the thickness of the emotional content of that). Then Mira receives two arrows without a bow, which, as far a metaphors go, is ripe for all kinds of unpacking. Finally, of even greater weight, the monster Mira may have to fight has a free swinging penis (and eyeballs on his knees). If this is the case... well, then, there you go...
All these seem to push enough on the edges of the envelope to make me excited by what could, perhaps, be something special. Jecaro may be using the monomyth to tell a tale, personal and emotionally charged.

That innocence and enthusiasm that encapsulates Jecaro's writing is also evident in his artwork. While there's certainly this Michael Avon Oeming vibe to his characters, there is a youthful sensibility to his line work and his use of colors. A vibrancy springs from Jecaro's panels as if he were illustrating a children's book, as if the intent is to make everyone smile. 
But this isn't a children's book. I'm convinced that there is something more going on here. I'm just not exactly sure what that is. And it is this uncertainty, especially in the midst of something so familiar, that is exciting and it makes me want to read more. 
Buy The Grove Nymph can be found on Comixology and find out more about Jecaro.

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