I'm the kind of person who finds really nice paper sexy in a book. So let's get this out of the way first: I need you to know that I had a minor freakout when I picked up this book because it is just SO GORGEOUSLY PRINTED. I know, as a journalist, that you are supposed to start with the most important information that appeals to the broadest audience (inverted pyramid style), but what can be more important than first impressions of a book? Despite the age-old and annoying adage, we do judge a book by its cover. And this book's cover is 100.01lb Via Felt Cool White paper and perfect bound. No, I'm not that strange, they included a colophon in the back of the book. And thank God they did or I might still be freaking out and smelling the book or something. Actually, I just like new book smell. But my point is, first impressions are important and this book's first impression on me was definitely a strong one. Author Marjee Chmiel ran a Kickstarter campaign to help defray the costs of printing the book and if you contributed, I can assure you it was worth every penny.
But seriously, on to the review. When I first saw this graphic novel at SPX I was sold on the premise alone (though, yes, the paper helped). It is the story of God and Lucifer, or, more specifically, Lucifer's fall, told as an office drama. I laughed pretty hard at the idea. God is the big boss who constantly says things like "big picture" and "team player" and Lucifer is really Luci, the punkish art director for Heaven's newest project, creating Earth. Now as it sounds, it starts out a bit like a sit-com with the requisite dry humor and self-loathing common in office place humor. But slowly, as you read on, the book gets very deep. Luci begins to question her existence, the work she does and it's ultimate value. It is a common life crisis theme, but when you are a creator and destroyer of worlds, these questions are so much bigger than the average accountant's questions about his happiness.
The thing about this story is that we all know the ending. But do not let that deter you from reading, because you'll miss all the best parts. The true value of this book is in the journey, and in the use of mundane metaphor to beautifully tell a well known story from an uncommon point of view.
The art is perfect for the tale. Sandra Lanz's style has a very retro vibe, like the style you might seen in cartoons like Harvey Birdman or Space Ghost. But it doesn't lean too far into the style, retaining just enough softness to keep the story grounded and away from the associations of absurdity that cartoons of that time period and style often evoke. The entire cosmos is Lanz's canvas, because they are Luci's canvas, and she plays with that idea on every page. Yes this is an office, but it's also Heaven. She manages to embody the ethereal spirit of the setting without sacrificing the premise of the office by adding touches of cherubs, clouds, angels and stars in all the right places, just to remind you where you are without shoving the setting down your throat.
And, if all of that isn't enough for you to want to check out this book, I think you need to know that Lucifer has a pet platypus. It's not a major plot point, but it majorly made my day.
TL;DR Luci's Let Down is a beautifully told and illustrated story of the fall of Lucifer from a different point of view. It asks some wonderful philosophical questions and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique read.
Luci's Let Down is created and written by Marjee Chmiel and illustrated by Sandra Lanz. It is published by Marjee with her company Baba Yaga Books. Luci's Let Down is their first title and premiered this year at SPX. It will also be available at APE. You can see a preview of the title on Marjee's website. You can also purchase either a hard copy or digital copy of the book at the Baba Yaga Store. Obviously, I would recommend the print edition.
A special thanks to Marjee and Sandra for giving me a review copy of the book at SPX and even signing it for me. You are classy ladies.