Alright everyone, buckle up, because I’m pretty sure I just read the cutest thing ever. Here at Warped Perspective, we are very open to all kinds of entertainment as long as it’s unique and a little weird, so this is, by FAR, the least scary thing to have ever been made, but GEEZ, is it cute. It’s fantasy cute! It’s a make toys out of it and cross-stitch the flowers cute! It’s vomiting rainbows cute AND it has dragons in it! And they are adorable! The Tea Dragon Society, IDW’s recent masterpiece of fantasy and cute girls, invites the reader into a world not torn by war or evil wizards, but instead, where tea is always served and a friend is never too far away. There’s almost no action and instead focuses on the beauty of a magical world that is enjoying a time of peace and prosperity and how one might grow up in it. With, dare I say, perfect illustrations, this all-ages comic is the perfect mellow down book for sweet dreams and tough days.
The comic is broken up into four chapters with each chapter representing a season. In the first chapter, Spring, our lead heroine Greta is introduced. She’s a young, naturally talented iron worker that lives in a small village with her parents. One day, as she’s shopping for groceries, she rescues a small dragon from a couple starving dogs (don’t worry, she feeds them) and brings him back to his owner. Here we meet Hesekial, the dragon’s owner, who explains to Greta that the dragon is actually a tea dragon whose leaves get harvested for tea. As a thank you, Hesekial offers to teach her about the art of tea dragons, but can this young black smith learn about such a delicate art? And who is this silent girl that hides out in the fields? Perhaps it’s time for her to grow just like the dragon leaves.
Perhaps the best way to see this book is like a grown up picture book. The story is insulated in a world where adventure and magic exists but, in this story, it doesn’t really come into play. It focuses more on the everyday beauty of living in a world where the shopkeepers are cats and you get your own magical creature depending on your line of work. It’s not about huge change and sudden dilemma, it’s just a fun story and that really sets it apart from other popular fantasy work. It also makes it much more relatable. The reader can absolutely picture themselves as the tea shop owner or the iron worker because odds are, that’s what the average person in a fantasy was going to be. We can’t all toss rings into volcanoes; somebody has to be an NPC. Also, the lead is a super spunky go-getter so if they do need to someone to throw down with some wizards, she’d be damn ready.
The characters themselves are creamy sweet and each have different but lovable personalities that just make you die a little inside. There’s even a little bit of queer love in there via Hesekial and his partner Erik that the work handles very gracefully. Writer and creator Katie O’Neill also handles the illustration duties and it’s spectacular! It’s perfect, no way around it. It’s cleverly tailored to the story with a contemporary animation style simplified down to graphic medium. The comic has a simple but effective color work that focuses more on basic colors than shadows or light, giving the whole work a mellow feeling. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
If you’re looking for something to wind down with at the end of the day or simply take a peek at some of the prettiest artwork on the market, pick up the Tea Dragon Society. Out on Halloween!