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Comic Review: Buzz!
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Buzz cover header

Trade Paperback | Kindle Edition
Written by Ananth Panagariya
Illustrated by Tessa Stone
Edited by James Lucas Jones
Cover by Tessa Stone
Oni Press
Release Date: April 9, 2014
Cover Price: $19.99

Words can be powerful weapons, and in the case of Buzz!, the latest graphic novel from Oni Press, this idea has never been truer. Written by Ananth Panagariya with art from Tessa Stone, comes an action-packed spelling bee extravaganza that will surely have you studying your dictionary.

Before anxious Webster heads off for his first day of high school, his sister tells him to “stay away from the trouble makers.” Unfortunately for Webster, this proves to be an immediate problem as he stumbles across an underground spelling bee in which the contestants are literally physically beaten by the words spelled against them. The gladiatorial-like combat scares Webster more than he’d like, even after he’s inadvertently thrust into and wins a match in the competition.

Soon, Webster discovers a world he never knew existed; a world where living legends like The Outlaw King and The Black Queen exchange in verbal battle with The Beest, The Immortal, and the conspiratorial group known as The Spelluminati; a world that may just hit very close to home.

My goodness, Buzz is a fun graphic novel! Panagariya has managed to take the dull concept of a spelling bee and turn it into a wild, engaging adventure ripe with layered characters and treacherous villains. The dialogue is quick and snappy, the pacing fast and firm, and the story smoothly fashioned.

Stone’s cartoony illustrations are a mix of a classic comic style with a modern manga vibe. Her black, white, and solid grays are delightfully muted, allowing the mustard yellow to highlight certain aspects of the panels and guide your eyes through the images.

Can you spell “awesome?” That’s exactly what this fun, fast-paced, unique graphic novel exudes. Panagariya and Stone have crafted an energetic tale in the vein of Scott Pilgrim that blends the power of words with explosive visuals. I can’t recommend Buzz enough.

Buzz #1 cover by Tessa Stone

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