Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #201 by Drew Barth

What’s In the Lemonade?

The boldest colors on comic covers are appealing. Such designs are in comics’ DNA from the very beginning—competing publishers trying to get kids’ attention with the most appealing covers. But there’s something to be said about the kind of cover, almost a hundred years removed from those first competing newsstand comics, that can still catch our attention so completely with its sudden pop-art brightness. It’s a comic like Pink Lemonade by Nick Cagnetti and François Vigneault that stands out like a bird of paradise with its pink psychedelia cover and even more engrossing interior.

Pink Lemonade is about our titular hero and their race against the evil forces of the universe. Maybe. Or it could be about a woman with a strange motorcycle and a scar on her forehead that doesn’t seem to remember exactly who they are or what they’ve done. But she knows she’s Pink Lemonade now after a girl named Pam gave it to her. And it’s Pam’s mom that brings Pink Lemonade back to their home where they watch the OJ-Bot cartoons that inspire her to be a hero. Or maybe she’s always been a hero in some capacity, but the cartoons unlocked something dormant within her? Either way, she’s able to use her motorcycle for good to crash a movie set and save kid’s wayward balloon, but not before ending up in jail for said disruption.

Pink Lemonade on her own, though, is an oddity. There’s something happening with her just below the surface, but we don’t know what just yet. We see these dreams of hers and the Kirby-esque space adventures her and her bike take, but we don’t know if they’re even real or some kind of hallucination. But with her odd bike and lack of memories in a world that seems like it’s taking a liking to a different kind of hero, Pink Lemonade feels similar to Grant Morrison’s Seaguy series from over a decade ago. And, from that series, we can see this kind of internal strangeness happening within our titular character. There’s those space adventures mentioned earlier, but then something else—this hooded figure that haunts just beyond her ability to interact with it. Similar to the background threat of Mickey Eye throughout Seaguy, this hooded figure is haunting the pages of Pink Lemonade in a way we’re not quite able to pin down from just the first issue.

Pink Lemonade, however, is still a spot of neon psychedelic joy from its cover onward. Cagnetti and Vigneault are the kinds of creators that are able to craft a similar world to our own while imbuing it with a simultaneous whimsy and menace to keep us interested in where the story will go. It’s one of those things that so few first issues do well, but it’s the kind of thing that feels almost effortless in these first pages. 

Get excited. Get lemons. 

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Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.