5/5 stars. Buy at: Iron Circus Comics (ebook) | Iron Circus Comics (Print) | Preorder on Amazon
Letters for Lucardo by Noora Heikkilä is a graphic novel and the first of four books. The protagonist, Ed Fiedler, is a normal human, 61 years old and a scribe by trade with rather unusual employers—the Night Court, ageless royals with a taste for blood (so, yes, absolutely vampires). He has the even more unusual distinction of being courted by the handsome, eternally-33 year old Lucardo. As both grow ever closer, they have to deal with a variety of culture shocks—a human among the inhuman, a man just this side of elderly with the eternally youthful, and a tangle of mortality with and against immortality.
I loved the art and concept for this book when it first went up on kickstarter and jumped on the chance to contribute, and was so glad I did. I absolutely wish I had been able to buy in paperback, not just digital, but shipping to Canada is always a buzzkill. If there’s an omnibus of all 4 parts later? I’ll take the plunge for sure, because count me in as a new fan.
I found this work absolutely charming. It’s sweet and hot in equal measures, with a thread of potential tragedy running throughout, and a great sense of when to build drama and when to undercut it. Which is to say, it does one of my favorite things when characters are annoyed with each other, which is to get them distracted by how much they like (and are attracted to) each other.
I enjoyed that Ed’s age wasn’t treated as a barrier to sexuality in any way, either to Lucardo or to the artist. Ed comments that age wasn’t kind to his body, but Lucardo really does not give a damn. It’s drawn likewise—he’s no silver fox, and Heikkilä doesn’t shy away from the physical features that often come with aging, from sagging chins to thin ankles and everything else in between. But it’s drawn with respect and affection and acknowledgement that he’s still sexual, both to himself and others, rather than being treated as off-limits or grotesque as older bodies so often are in media. Likewise, his desire for romance, intimacy, and a lot of really enthusiastic sex isn’t either ignored or treated as abnormal. (This should probably not be so rare as to be praiseworthy, but it is. And it is so deliberately and easily handled as completely normal here!) Likewise, Heikkilä is great at character design; there’s a wide variety of characters with distinct and varied appearances (and a very multi-ethnic cast as well).
Oh, one note—this is not a book to read in public, at work, or around kids! There are a lot of graphic sex scenes and the heat index is quite high in it.
Despite the thread of potential tragedy, it doesn’t feel like it will end up a sad story. This volume covers the setup to that developing tragedy, sure, but mostly seems to illustrate the political background and players for the story to develop further in the later volumes. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s visually delightful—and also, it’s a really good length, at 142 pages absolutely packed with content.
I for one can’t wait to see volume 2 announced on Kickstarter!