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What started off as a college class assignment three years ago has since turned into a 156-page graphic novel that celebrates humor, diversity, monsters, and the ongoing battle between good and evil.
Monster Lands Vol. 1, a comedic fantasy series for teens and young adults created by Charlottean James Nelson, was recently published in graphic novel form.
Nelson will be selling and signing books 5 – 8 p.m. at the inaugural Mistletoe Market, Dec. 1 at Camp North End (1824 Statesville Ave.)
Monster Lands Vol. 1 follows a diverse range of characters, but the main figure is Othera, an axe-wielding adventurer who travels the continent meeting and killing evil people and monsters. With an evil queen named Eren Lorry ruling over the Monster Lands, Othera has her work cut out for her.
“It’s a humorous story with slapstick comedy, but there are also some real stakes involved,” said Nelson, a graduate of Northwest School of the Arts and Savannah College of Art and Design.
The book, which is comprised of the first nine chapters of a webcomic Nelson started in his senior year of college, touches on themes such as what it means to be a hero, toxic friendships, talking trees that are rude, and abusive upbringings.
Nelson, 26, made representation a priority in this character-driven story. Among Monster Lands cast are several positive female and gender nonconforming characters.
“Including many different kinds people was important to me,” he said. “I have friends who are nonbinary, and they rarely see themselves depicted in mainstream comics or media, but with a creator-owned series, you can pretty much put whatever you want in your work.”
“A lot of stories only have one or two female characters, and if they act a certain way, that’s usually seen as the writer’s view on all women,” Nelson continued. “I try to give the cast of Monster Lands a strong variety of personalities and opinions. That’s what makes their interactions so much more interesting.”
Readers can also follow the webcomic as it updates weekly at www.monster-lands.com.