“NANNY & HANK: RETIREMENT IS HELL” (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally  published at Fangoria.com on March 20, 2011

NANNY & HANK: RETIREMENT IS HELL (Bluewater Comics) collects the undeniably charming four-issue miniseries. Death, marriage and immortality are all explored with such well-paced drama and laugh-out-loud humor. This is what happens when your everyday Grandma and Grandpa crosses paths with a disgruntled vampire. Just when this elderly couple thought life couldn’t get any worse, they got incredibly longer!

The humorous tale starts off with a loudmouth drunk ranting about his lifestyle. Dressed in leather like a rock star, this irritable boozehound complains nonstop, while the other drinkers are completely ignoring him. In just a split second, the ambiance changes and you, the reader, realize this isn’t any typical bar. This is a tavern that serves humans to vampires and O’Neil is getting drunk off of blood.

Elsewhere, Nanny and Hank are eagerly packing up for their road trip to visit the grandkids. Even in their 70s and feeling their age, the retired couple are full of life in their usual routine. Out of tremendous anger, the intoxicated O’Neil breaks into their home and turns the two into vampires. Sadly, Nanny will never be able to look at the sunrise again, like she has always done every morning.

Because their grandkids are waiting for them, NANNY & HANK travel across America feeding off of lowlifes. Even though they try to hide their hunger for blood, the grandkids are starting to suspect something is wrong with their grandparents. Hilarity is taken to another level as Janine, Craig and Bobby attempt to make sense of the situation. The kids constantly argue, vampires don’t twinkle; they burn in the sunlight. Hung-over and somewhat sober, O’Neil realizes he cannot have the elderly running around as vampires. NANNY & HANK have to do all they can to protect their grandkids when O’Neil arrives at their front doorstep.

Mark L. Miller, editor of the comics section of Ain’t It Cool News, has provided a well-written script with genuine emotions. Miller is able to pull off touching instances between Hank and Nanny while punching up the terror of O’Neil’s vampire attacks. Even though their introduction arrives late, the three grandchildren become a welcoming addition to the storyline. The plot became better because the grandparents have something personal to lose and an even more difficult struggle to raise the kids, especially during the daytime.

The cartoony artwork by Steven Babb is exaggeratedly animated and teasing. From top to bottom, O’Neil is perfectly realized as a punk rocker, a Billy Idol imitator, who’s still stuck in the ’80s. The bright and colorful pages by Kamui Ayami and Ivan Plascencia enhance the quirky humor to its fullest. The illustrations have a style all their own and deserves to be recognized for it!

Arriving in stores next week, NANNY & HANK: RETIREMENT IS HELL has a lot of potential because of its wild originality. Even though Grandma and Grandpa have become monsters, no reader will be able to resist rooting for them! With a lot of heart and humor, this comic book series becomes an indisputable classic. Comic book fans should definitely add this one to their collection.