Upside Down: A Vampire Tale by Jess Smart Smiley
Since I temporarily seem to find myself in Utah – although I admit it’s not quite as frightening here as I thought it might be, ahem! – I figured this spookfest would not be complete without a Utahn Halloween manga, right? Jess Smart Smiley, who “lives in the bewitching mountains of Utah,” according to his back flap author bio, “ma[de] rad pictures with his bare hands” to create this 2012 graphic novel debut (a case of ‘better late than never’).
Meet vampire Harold: his darling – I mean, scary! – mug haunts the novel’s cover. He’s got quite the candy addiction that causes him to lose his cavity-riddled fangs on the dentist’s tray. Without his sparkling bite, he’s too ashamed to go home to his parents, who happen to live in Professor Adams’ piano, so he decides he might as well hang (upside down) with the neighborhood bats.
Meanwhile, mean-witch Vermillion mistakenly dissolves the rest of her kind, but figures she can live forever if she can just get to Professor Adams’ latest elixir. But thanks to Harold, his batty buddies, flying toads, and wads of used gum, the world is made safe once more … and dear Professor Adams even finds his spellbound soulmate.
For younger readers (and parents) in search of some non-cavity-inducing fun, Upside Down is a sweet, goofy treat to share, in between a limited few lollipops and chocolates. Dr. Eaves, of course, will be waiting with pliers for those who overindulge!
Smiley’s (gotta grin at that fitting name!) charming graphics are made whimsically more “rad,” presented in “black, white and Halloween green.” That’s right – not a smidge of pumpkin orange in sight (except for a tiny bit of t-shirt on an adorable monster who shares Smiley’s author photo)! Oh, these Utahns are just so renegade!