When you think of all-ages titles you don’t think of Zenescope, which is why they came up with the Silver Dragon Books imprint. That’s were Family Pets resides, but it’s the imprints and company’s first digital only title to be released. I’ll tell you right now that it’s cute as hell. I was honestly taken back by this issue and the story in general.
We meet Thomasina, a young girl that lost her parents in a mysterious car accident at an early age. She now lives with her grandma, in the basement of her aunt and uncle’s house. As she heads to school we’re given a quick run through of her family members as she checks in with grandma or abuela as she prefers to be called. Next we meet her uncle, aunt and cousin Neil. On the way to school we meet the final family member her other cousin Elizabeth. At school Thomasina’s life is that of a typical high school loner and she even describes it that way, but there are too many people being stupid for her to care. During lunch she heads to the band room to listen to Smitty play his French horn and relax. They don’t talk, but she gives him the dreamy eyes while he plays.
At night we meet Sebastian, Thomasina’s pet snake. It’s clear that she feels alone and pretty much hates her existence calling her life “unremarkable.” She makes a childish wish that Sebastian could talk back, but then quickly remembers all of the embarrassing things she’s told him over the years. The next morning she wakes up to find Sebastian’s tank broken and the window left open as if someone came in and stole him. She heads up stairs to talk to the rest of her family and instead finds piles of clothes and other animals. In the living room she finds a sharply dressed man holding a cat. She asks him where her snake is and why he brought her other animals and that’s when he drops the bomb on her… he’s Sebastian.
If you haven’t figured out the twist then I’ll refer you to the title. For whatever reason, a wizard has turned Thomasina’s family into animals and Sebastian into a human. Now he’s going to help her find the wizard and change them back. It’s a very engaging story and since it deals with feeling alienated in high school, everyone can relate; if you can’t then fuck off this review. There is an amazing scene between Thomasina and human Sebastian that damn near made my eyes water. What really sold the scene were her grandma’s reactions and the genuine feelings that the characters had.
Shand knocks it out of the park with this issue and I’m definitely impressed with his range as a writer. To go from spearheading most of Zenescope more mature titles, to something like this is incredible. It’s honestly some of his best writing to date. Whenever you’re writing people always tell you to avoid narration because it’s “lazy” or “amateur”, but Shand uses it so effectively in this issue that you can’t say either of those things about it.
There’s an animated look to the art that gives is a Saturday morning feel and that’s perfect for the story. The animals are realistic looking, but with Dill’s style added to the mix. This will sound weird, but the noses and the hair were some of the strongest aspects of the art. There’s a variety of each and it made the characters more realistic and distinct. Dill does a fantastic job and the black and white art style is a strength to the story for sure.
It’s been a while since I was excited about an all-ages title. I’m genuinely looking forward to the next issue and that’s something I haven’t felt since reading Rust or Mouse Guard. The concept seems obvious and almost too simple, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I think there’s going to be a lot of moral lessons to be learned and family connections in this series. Don’t be surprised if this hooks you in the same way it did me and for only a buck you really can’t go wrong.
Writer: Pat Shand Artist: Sarah Dill Publisher: Silver Dragon Books and Zenescope Price: $.99 Release Date: 5/1/13 On Comixology