Welcome to Showside #2 is another fun installment in writer/artist Ian McGinty’s bouncy, anything goes all ages urban fantasy saga. (The series has also spawned an animated pilot.) In this issue, readers get to meet Belle’s little brother Toulouse, who is a bit of a nerd and scared of their father Mr. Stone, an eyepatch wearing demon hunter, who hates monsters (even adorable ones like Kit and Boo) and lives in a castle above Showside. The comic starts as a fun beach excursion complete with rad banter, a food truck excursion, and standing up to an annoying bully, who looks like the steroid fueled offspring before turning into another magical monster brawl. And between the eating and fighting, McGinty continues to develop the world of Showside, including the tension between humans and monsters as well as introduce the silliest (and sadly most powerful politically) character to date, Mayor Mayer.
Even the exposition in Welcome to Showside #2 is hilarious and/or visually interesting. McGinty takes a break from his Saturday morning cartoon inspired style and channels his inner Mike Mignola or John Arcudi to give readers a glimpse of Mr. Stone as he battles the Shadow King in a painting at Belle and Toulouse’s house. But then, it’s back to Kit, Belle, Moon, Toulouse, Boo, and Teenomicon hanging out on the beach and having a good time. There is another page of exposition about the Nexus, which is where monsters come from, and colorist Fred Stresing livens this scene up with a pixelated color palette that really pops, and McGinty throws in a fun art joke by making Teenomicon a brace face.
Ian McGinty does a nice job not making the sides clear cut in Welcome to Showside #2 and making humans necessarily good or monsters evil. Moon really shows a wisdom beyond her years when she tells Toulouse, “Not every monster in town is bad or evil.” Mostly, the monsters in Showside just want to find work and make a living by owning a food truck or something. They could be a metaphor for immigrants in this universe and an interesting thing to think about as the series progresses.
In fact, the “monster” of the week this issue is actually the aptly named bully Chad Chaddington, who is possessed by the Shadow King’s shapeshifting minion Andrew after he picks up an amulet. The amulet enhances its bearer’s abilities and personality so that means that Chad is even meaner than usual. It’s like in Marvel Comics when Steve Rogers takes the super soldier serum, he becomes a kinder and better person as well as being super strong. But when Nuke takes it he becomes more violent, angry, and jingoistic. Likewise, Chad goes on a rampage and continues his bullying of Toulouse after his sister Belle rejects him and delivers a scathing putdown by calling him a “trashboy”.
Fred Stresing punches up the mystical bits of the action scenes giving each character a distinct color when they use their abilities, like Moon’s green fists or the deep purple of Andrew’s magical tendrils as he possesses Chad. The colors fit in well with the fierce poses that McGinty gives his characters as they try to save Kit from being sent back through Nexus to his father the Shadow King. The battle also has a clever, nerd friendly ending that is a lot cooler than just punching the monster and throwing it back in the portal.
Another entertaining and slightly unsettling part of Welcome to Showside #2 is Mayor Mayer, who looks like a spaced out version of the Monopoly Man and talks and acts like a less adorable version of Pops from Regular Show. His dialogue is condescending purple prose, and he only cares about filling his pockets so that he can add another wing to his mansion. Oh, and he like ice cream too. There is something really off about him, and his addition to the supporting cast adds to the weirdness as well as the unfortunate inequality of the world of Showside.
Lumberjanes‘ Carolyn Nowak also illustrates a hilarious, supernatural themed backup story featuring Cool Ghost, or one of the most annoying characters in the history of fiction. He gets his comeuppance though, and the backup also deepens Moon’s character with the introduction of her Great Aunt Esther and the spooky cabin they share.
With its joke filled, laid back dialogue, fun world building, and non-preachy connection to real world issues, Welcome to Showside #2 is another stellar showing for Ian McGinty and Fred Stresing. Toulouse Stone even gets a complete arc as he goes from a timid, little nerd boy to a monster fighter like his sister and father, but with an extra side of compassion to go with his can of whoop ass. Also, who can pass up a book where the main character rocks hamburger swim trunks.