In Sheets, Marjorie is trying to keep the family business, a laundromat, together. Her mother passed away, and Dad has mostly checked out. She has to cope with self-centered customers and a pushy, smarmy neighborhood businessman. Then the ghosts appear.
The spirits all look like the classic children’s image, white sheets with a rounded top for a head. But they go to support groups to try and accept how they died, and their world is notably less colorful than Marjorie’s. The imaginative Wendell isn’t ready for that, so he finds Marjorie’s laundromat, which feels like a spa for his sheet.
Brenna Thummler’s style isn’t as smooth and simplified as some of the most popular graphic novels for kids. Her lines have more options, more of a sense of uncertainty that works well with Marjorie’s struggles. It can mean getting lost in some panels, where the key item isn’t immediately visible. Instead of clearly drawing the eye through the story, Thummler’s work wanders, and the faces sometimes look odd. (You can see preview pages at a website put together by publisher Lion Forge.)
The pacing could also be improved. Lengthy sections move through day-to-day detail, showing the ennui of Marjorie’s existence. The story could have been tightened; as it is now, Wendell and Marjorie finally meet halfway through the 200-plus pages. The meandering structure is more common to reads targeted for an adult audience, where realism is more appreciated; younger readers may not have the patience needed to wait around for things to happen. Elements of the happy ending are rushed and not well established previously.
There are honest feelings about loss and sadness expressed here, but the emotional development of the characters is jumpy. There’s plenty of detail, but the reader may sometimes wonder what it provides to the core story. Another editing pass might have made for a more satisfying, tighter read.
Thummler has some areas to work on, but the combination of laundry, sheets, and ghosts is clever. Sheets fills the gap of something to read between more polished YA graphic novel releases. (Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids. The publisher provided a digital review copy.)