THE GHOST, THE OWL by Franco and Sara Richard
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
THE GHOST, THE OWL breaks from the horror tradition to tell a wandering ghost story akin to folklore and fable. Sara Richard's vibrant artwork makes the the comic glow with beautiful animals and energizes Franco's blunt writing.
92 %
Enchanting

With large eyes and silent wings, owls feature in folklore and mythology as symbols of wisdom. The mysterious birds are a perfect addition to a ghost story such as Franco’s THE GHOST, THE OWL. The comic is a ghost tale wrapped in folkloric ambiance and magical artwork by Sara Richard. At the helm are a generous owl and a lost spirit. Together, the ghost and the owl face a dangerous battle that involves long lost history and puts the lives of the forest animals at stake. Action Labs Entertainment’s comic reads as though transcribed, occasionally overwrought. While the comic is not completely child-friendly, it toes the line between a comic for adults and one for children. Luckily, Richard’s artwork welcomes the reader into a lush landscape where animals’ beauty and wisdom thrives. As a result, THE GHOST, THE OWL is an exquisite sensory experience for readers of any age.

THE GHOST, THE OWL
Image courtesy of Action Labs Entertainment.

Animal Magic:

THE GHOST, THE OWL lets readers revel in the vitality of animals. Richard’s artwork weaves the landscape and animals together to bring nature’s liveliness into full view. Readers will wish Richard’s drawings would go on forever as they follow the owl and the ghost on their journey.

Franco and Richard’s work might remind older readers of Jonathan London’s Fire Racebeautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long. Like Fire Race, THE GHOST, THE OWL depicts the world of animals as following a unique system. In particular, Franco emphasizes the organization of owls. The parliament (the collective noun for owls) gives special directions to the young owl in Franco’s story. Specifically, the parliament and other animals in THE GHOST, THE OWL enforce the boundaries between the natural and human world.

THE GHOST, THE OWL
Image courtesy of Action Labs Entertainment.

Animals in folklore often appear allegorically, meaning they are meant to reflect on human culture. THE GHOST, THE OWL can be read as a lesson in kindness to other living creatures, especially in the face of evil. However, Richard’s artwork highlights the beauty in nature, letting the animal magic stand out against the somewhat cartoon-like humans and ghost. The balance reinforces the magic within nature and makes THE GHOST, THE OWL a spellbinding journey into the wild.

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Wandering Ghost Stories

Franco’s story takes an interesting approach to the ghost story genre. Instead of a disgruntled ghost, Franco’s ghost is simply lost. Indeed, the antagonist of THE GHOST, THE OWL isn’t nature or the ghost. Instead, it is a very malicious human. The elements of Franco’s comic are compelling and the emphasis on nature and supernatural forces as positive is a great twist on the traditional ghost story. However, Franco’s dialog is choppy. As a result of the ghost’s anti-climactic backstory and her over-narration, the comic tells too much. Luckily, the interactions between the animals are far more compelling and help keep the magic of THE GHOST, THE OWL flowing.

THE GHOST, THE OWL
Image courtesy of Action Labs Entertainment.

THE GHOST, THE OWL tends to wander, and many elements of the comic, from its beautiful images to its magical plot, are similar to Tomm Moore’s animated film The Secret of the Kells. Mystical and enchanting, THE GHOST, THE OWL draws from real-world challenges including how to live authentically and help others. As a result, the ghost story breaks from the horror genre to tell an uplifting fairy tale.

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THE GHOST, THE OWL: Morality Stories in Comics Form

Fairy tales and fables often have a moral. While Franco does not deliberately conclude THE GHOST, THE OWL with a moral, the comic does deliver several sweet lessons on kindness and generosity. Interestingly, the owl, who is traditionally a symbol of wisdom, embodies a nuanced knowledge: the importance of helping others. Additionally, THE GHOST, THE OWL is not afraid to encourage rule-breaking for a good cause. Indeed, when faced with real evil, breaking rules is sometimes the only right thing to do. THE GHOST, THE OWL innovates on the traditional morality story, adding complexity without being overly didactic. Moreover, Franco reinforces the importance of caring for nature, and how nature will help everyone if we protect and nurture it.

THE GHOST, THE OWL
Image courtesy of Action Labs Entertainment.

THE GHOST, THE OWL delivers a sweet story with heart. Richard’s magical artwork gives presence to the wild animals that fill the comic’s pages. Although bumpy at times, the organic ghost story will enchant readers of all ages.

THE GHOST, THE OWL is available here.

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