cover image Space Academy 123

Space Academy 123

Mickey Zacchilli. Koyama, $18 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-927668-63-4

This playful collection of stories from Zacchilli’s sci-fi humor/romance webcomic series launches readers into the humorous day-to-day adventures at a space school in a dystopian future. The Manga-influenced drawings are wonderfully scribbly and expressionistic, mirroring the messy feelings and angst of Zacchilli’s characters, from the students to the teaching staff. Among the pupils, there’s excessively anxious Andrew, who despite his nerdy demeanor and deep devotion to his mother, has caught the eye of both the mischievous Ashley Forgiveness and angsty bully Naomi. The staff features a recent graduate of the school, Donna Summer, who, upon being made “Space Chief Master Principal,” reveals her deep disappointment: “I just wanted to be a space chiropractor.” There’s also Robot Teachers #3, #5, and #8 and the supremely arrogant Grandfather Computer, who says his jokes are “based on human jokes, except vastly superior.” Amid Zacchilli’s wild, drawn-into-the-margin visuals, her narrative bubbles along agreeably; she has an assured sense of pacing and a sublime sense of humor. While the Panter-esque sketchy doodling won’t appeal to all readers, Zacchilli’s funny and insightful takes on teenage dreams and fears, mixed with classic sci-fi tropes, make this a winner, with possible crossover appeal for middle school readers and up. [em](Oct.) [/em]