Polterguys Volume 1
Laurianne Uy is clearly manga-influenced, but her first graphic novel, a Xeric Award winner, is enjoyable for any comic reader. Polterguys is the story of Bree, a focused college student who has a dream of becoming a doctor that takes the place of having any friends. Her roommates drive her crazy, so she moves off-campus to an old house that turns out to have five inhabitants — ghosts, all boys. (According to the author, it’s inspired by “reverse harem” shojo manga like Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club, in which a girl is surrounded by lots of cute guys.)
There’s Frankie, a lady-loving jock; Simon, a little boy; Doug, a med student; and Ben and Alex, the twins who are nothing alike. Alex’s the unofficial leader, but somewhat distrustful of everyone, trying to protect his flock. They’ve forgotten how they died and what they might need to move on, but they’ve built their own small family. They welcome Bree in, and as the book progresses, she (and we) learn their backstories and what they’re seeking. There’s also a ghost reaper, putting the friends at risk and providing some drama to drive the need for revelation.
Uy’s cartooning is first-rate, with expressive characters and distinctive settings and backgrounds. It’s a quick read, comfortable with realistic scenes. Key points are revealed through natural dialogue. Uy’s been influenced by manga, but she’s not trying to copy it; she’s trying to tell stories in similar fashion, but reflecting her background, not another culture’s.
While there’s a lot of setup in this first volume, with a second coming, I applaud the creators actually tying up one story thread to make for a conclusion within these covers. I’m eager to read more with these characters, because I enjoyed the time I spent with them.
You can order the book in either print or PDF versions or view preview pages at the book’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)