The webcomics blog about webcomics

Fleen Book Corner: Electric Margaloo

That is to say, The Creepy Case Files Of Margo Maloo book two: The Monster Mall by Drew Weing. There’s something great about Margo Maloo (the webcomic) and Margo Maloo (the character). The webcomic is great because it’s breezy, fun, and the sort of low-grade creepy that kids can enjoy without getting nightmares. It’s the Ahhhh, that’s so cool end of the scale instead of the Can’t sleep ever again end of the scale. The character is great because Margo defends the kids of Echo City from monsters not by force, but by words. She’s not a Monster Slayer, she’s a Monster Mediator.

And she knows a lot more than she’s letting on to Charles, the POV character, new to Echo City, unused to its ways, prone to taking the subway the wrong way for three stops, and desperately trying to turn himself into a blogging force of nature re: the supernatural. He’s essentially the three nerds from The X-Files as a pre-teen, and he’s easy to identify with¹.

He and Margo (according to Charles, they’re partners; according to Margo, he’s her assistant²) are wondering why there’s so many more interactions between kids and monsters these days; she’s desperate to keep the whole thing from blowing up into open warfare between the humans and monsters, and he just wants to learn and share as much as he can. Margo’s willing to go along with his idea of a kids-only blog to talk about monsters in ways that will keep the peace, but there’s cards she’s playing close to her chest.

In particular: how does a kid barely older than Charles have the run of the city? Where did she learn all her lore? How long has she been mediating, given every kid in Echo knows rumors of her, and half the monsters are terrified of crossing her? What happened to the older generations of monsters that caused at least some of their children to turn away from their habits? Why does she live in a spooky old house with doting (and possibly exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms) uncle (or, more likely, grand-uncle), but no parents? Who wrote all of her casefile entries back before she was born, and why are things changing?

And, crucially: Who is trying to provoke things between the various residents of Echo City?

The other thing that’s great about the Margo Maloo stories is how Echo City feels like a living place. The endpapers in the print collections are a subway map³, story arcs take place in different parts of town, with Margo telling Charles where to meet her, and generally a couple of panels of him in transit. It’s lived in, it’s a place of change, each neighborhood feels consistent to itself. It’s a tough think to pull off, and Weing does it with easy.

The Creepy Case Files Of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall is available in bookstores everywhere, and is a darn run read for everybody able to read on their own and sustain their attention over 100 pages or so. We at Fleen thank :01 Books for the review copy.


While we’re here, I want to thank :01 Books for something else; the inside back cover for a number of their Summer/Fall 2018 releases (mostly books for older teens and up) have a nice feature that I’ve not seen elsewhere. There’s a decision tree printed that helps readers find other books that they’d like, depending on topic and treatment.

Want adventure (historical)? Try Delilah Dirk. Want adventure (apocalyptic)? Spill Zone or Last Pick are what you need. Mostly the recommendations are in the current releases, but you’ve also got some classics (American Born Chinese, the book that made the imprint) and some future titles (Kiss Number 8, coming next year).

It’s a great tool for discovery and promotion, and more publishers should use it. For that matter, it would be great to see a similar bookfinder for (age-appropriate) titles in the younger target audiences (okay, probably not the big picture books for beginning readers, but everything above that).

Spam of the day:

Rachael is my name though

Yes, and? (I feel like Del Close having to prompt like this.)

¹ Uhhh, not that I’d now anything about being an awkward, overeager kid without many friends. Nope, not me.

² Verging on flunky.

³ With more than a few stations seemingly named for cartoonists: Wrightson, Beaton, Fink, Rowland … and King could very well be a reference to Stephen.

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