So you’re a kid with a goofy dad and smart-mouth sister, and all three of you have just moved to a boring, tiny town. And on your first day of school, you run into a group of kids who can see ghosts. Most kids would leap at the chance for adventure. But Max would rather ride his scooter. Sadly, he becomes possessed by a spirit, which gives him powers, but means he can’t leave the town of Mayview. Ever. So, Max (reluctantly) joins the Paranatural Activity Club. However, Mayview is a little town of big secrets, and Max is unwittingly in the middle of it all.
Paranatural is written and illustrated by Zachary Morrison. He best describes it as “a comedy/action comic about a group of superpowered middle schoolers fighting evil spirits and investigating paranormal activity in their hometown.” The comic goes into enormous detail on subjects, such as a recent chapter where most of the storyline is spent on a game of dodgeball. While this helps in world-building, it does slow the story somewhat. At times, Paranatural reads more like a parody comic, with visual gags abounding and various examples of metafiction. But the action and humor blend well.
In the early chapters, the art is drawn with heavy lines and color saturation; in recent chapters, the work has smoothed, with smaller lines and less color-intensity, but this in no way impacts how detailed the art is. There is a clear influence from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, as in almost every panel spirits float, crawl, walk, or fly in the background. Nor are these your typical sheet ghosts; they range from a smiling blob of slime to a walking, talking forge-knight. Some resemble humans and others are just bizarre. The (living) humans themselves are fairly normal, providing a good contrast with the visible and invisible worlds.
The rules of the Paranatural’s universe are hard to follow if you don’t read the comic from first to last, and the comic is dialogue-heavy, with conversations spanning multiple panels and pages. Morrison has created a large population of characters, and even the most obscure can play a large part in the story. However, the point of Paranatural is a normal boy named Max is thrust into a weird situation and has no choice but to roll with it. And that is where readers can relate to and enjoy Morrison’s comic, because all you can do is roll with the story. And it is an interesting story, with great visual appeal.
Paranatural is a supernatural comic about an ordinary boy in an average town filled with ghosts. Read it at Paranatural.net.