Feb 19 2015
James F. Wright & Jackie Crofts
Action Lab Entertainment, 26 pgs, $1.99
Reviewed by Tiffany M. Davis
Nutmeg is the new offering by writer James F. Wright and artist Jackie Crofts. The inaugural series follows the exploits of Cassia Caraway and Poppy Pepper, students and eventual best friends at Mason Montgomery Junior High School. When Cassia mouths off–in French, no less–to the reigning Mean Girl of the school, Saffron Longfellow, Poppy is instantly intrigued by the new girl who has the ovaries to stand up to the girl she describes as “top of the food chain” in the Mason Montgomery ecosystem. After being recipients of Saffron’s bullying–done by her sycophants, lest Saffron’s manicured hands become dirty–Cassia and Poppy join forces to bring The Princess down once and for all–just in time for the Bi-Annual Brownie Brawl, a fundraiser for the Lady Rangers, a Girl Scouts knockoff–and of which Saffron is the leader.
“What surprised me most, though, was the question we were asked the most. It wasn’t ‘How did you do it?’ or even “Why did you do it?’ It was this–’Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?’ And my answer was always the same: ‘Of course I would. After all…she was my best friend.’ ”
Get ready. Order another round. It’s. About. To Go. DOWN.
Part of the delicious anticipation (no pun intended) is that it’s not clear who is speaking the above introduction to this issue: Cassia or Poppy? Also, the prospect of girls named after various herbs and spices doing heinous deeds gives a whole new perspective on the nursery rhyme “Sugar and spice and everything nice–that’s what little girls are made of.” Indeed, the chef in me giggles at the names of the characters. To wit: Mrs. McCormick, the teacher, named for a lower quality, unimaginative, easily accessible spice brand. Saffron, one the most (if not the most) expensive herbs in the world (current price: approximately $7.93 per gram for Spanish saffron from La Mancha; $6.72/gram for Grade 1 Iranian saffron; $14/gram for Persian saffron). Cassia, an aromatic bark similar to cinnamon (and which is often sold in North America as cinnamon), and is primarily used in strong, spicy dishes and in the herb blend known as Chinese Five-Spice. Pepper, a robust spice cultivated from a flowering vine, which also has myriad health benefits, including acting as a catalyst for the efficiency of other health foods. Poppy, a pretty red flower which produces one of the most addictive classes of drugs (opiates), even through the innocuous-looking poppy seeds. And nutmeg, a spice so strong it has been used to fight infection, stimulate abortions, and mimic the effects of opiates such as heroin (shoutout to Malcolm X). It is also poisonous in larger amounts.
The dark undertones of the storyline, hidden beneath the gratuitous use of pastels to invoke sweetness and light, add to the appeal of this comic. This is not some fluffy story about Girl Power; it’s almost Harry Potter-like in its borderline safeness for younger readers. I am here for Nutmeg and can’t wait for subsequent issues. Gitchu a piece.
Pre-order Nutmeg #1 here and pick up the book on March 25th!
Tiffany M. Davis, who also writes under the pen name Tee Emdee, is the author of the Bastille Family Chronicles series and the Sebastian Scott novels. When she is not spinning tales from the creative yet dystopian landscape of her mind, you can find her cheering the San Antonio Spurs; reading, cooking; or playing mahjong and Words With Friends. She lives in the Atlanta, GA area with her polydactyl cat, Mr. Nibbles, and is a fan of aikido and the Oxford Comma. She has a tendency to wild out, Blerd style, on Twitter.