Review by Frank Plowright
Hexley Daggert Ragbottom is young, which is relevant, because he’s not spent decades weaving spells to keep evil creatures at bay like his father has, and he has the optimism of youth in believing there must be a way to reverse an irreversible decline. His hope lies in his Uncle Salazar, once the greatest wizard, yet unseen for a long while, and someone Hexley hopes can teach him new magic. As seen on the sample page, his quest may not have quite the outcome he expects.
If you add colourist Meg Casey to writer Simon Shaun and artist Conor Nolan there’s wizardry in the names alone, every single one being a first name. Together they present a sort of magical equivalent to The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Sally, as he’d prefer to be known, is happy living in his beach shack taking in the rays and surfing, and his biggest concern is a spice demon in his cupboard sucking the flavour from his spice jars. By contrast Hexley has a stick up his arse, although has the best of intentions.
Anyone focussing on Hexley’s quest, though, is missing the point of this laugh a panel romp. Shaun packs in the jokes while Nolan interprets them. There’s no way of knowing which creator conceived the majority of the visual jokes, and even asking them might produce contradictory answers, but for readers they’re plentiful and a constant joy. Whether it’s a yeti driving a sleigh pulled by wolves in shades across a beach or a laughing stone head that produces medicine, the pages are imaginatively dense with detail, and Nolan has a fine way with character design.
Eventually Shaun brings the plot back to its starting point and we discover that despite himself Hexley has learned something from his stay at Wizard Beach and he has something to offer the community. You’ll have laughed, you’ll have laughed some more, and you’ll laugh again.