Scary Godmother


By Jill Thompson (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-589-6

The Eisner-Award winning Scary Godmother started life in 1997 as a full-colour, strip-format children’s book before evolving into a comicbook series, hit stage show and brace of Cartoon Network animated specials.

The original fully-painted picture book spawned three equally captivating annual sequels from Indie publisher Sirius Entertainment and all four of those astoundingly enthralling, wickedly hilarious books were resurrected in 2010 by Dark Horse as a stunning all-ages trade paperback collection just in time for Halloween.

And now it’s that time again…

Created by the terrifyingly multi-talented Jill Thompson (The Sandman, The Invisibles, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, The Little Endless Storybook) these stories offer comfortably spooky chills frosted with cracking comedy whilst proudly defending the inalienable right to be different…

Debut volume ‘The Scary Godmother’ introduced little Hannah Marie who is frantic to start her first ever Trick or Treat night, and only the teensiest bit disappointed that she has to go with her older, rather mean cousin Jimmy and his friends.

Naturally the big kids aren’t that keen on taking a baby along as they desperately try to score vast amounts of candy and cake, so as the evening progresses they try all they can think of to ditch the wide-eyed waif. It’s Jimmy who has the idea to scare Hannah by taking her to the old Spook House…

As they all nervously enter the ramshackle, abandoned old mansion, Jimmy tells Hannah Marie that the new kid has to give the monsters in the house some candy or they will eat all the children in the world, but he has severely underestimated his cousin’s grit. Although scared, she enters the dilapidated pile and the gang have no choice but to follow her inside…

As she looks for the horrible creatures Hannah Marie starts to cry and her sobs cause a strange thing to happen: someone joins in with sobs even louder than hers. And that’s how she meets the twisted fairy called Scary Godmother and befriends all the actual magic monsters who live in the weird midnight realm known as the Fright Side…

Scary Godmother is the Ambassador of Spooky and pretty much runs Halloween. After being introduced to the bats and beasts and boggles, Hannah Marie is no longer afraid and her new friend even has some ideas on how to teach Jimmy and his pals how to be less mean…

One year later ‘The Revenge of Jimmy’ finds the nasty boy deeply traumatised by his most memorable encounter with actual monsters last year. Now settled on the notion that if he sabotages Halloween, the horrors, haunts and horrible things won’t be able to come back to the real world for a second chance at him, Jimmy sets out on a mission of sabotage…

Across the dark divide the inhabitants are all gearing up for their night of fun in the real world and perplexed that something is gumming the works. The magic bridge that forms to carry them over is only half-formed, strange webs bar their path and other peculiar events temporarily hamper their preparations for the special night.

It’s all Jimmy’s fault but every time one of his cunning schemes looks like scuttling the town’s forthcoming festivities, some busybody or other finds a way to turn his sneaky dirty work into an exercise in ingenuity. With nothing apparently stopping Halloween coming and the Fright Siders crossing over, Jimmy steps up his campaign, unaware that all that meanness and loose magic is causing a rather strange transformation in Jimmy…

Nevertheless his most appalling act of sabotage almost succeeds until little Hannah Marie sees an upside to his horrible acts.

Halloween is saved but Jimmy almost isn’t… until one bold monster steps up to set things right…

Another year rolls by and Hannah Marie is preparing for a Halloween block party. As Mum and the other parents toil to make all the seasonal treats, the little girl is writing invitations to all the monsters in Fright Side. Hannah Marie has learned how to cross over to the nether realm, but when she gets there Scary Godmother is also busy, ensuring the night will be suitably spooky and wonderful.

As Hannah Marie distributes the invitations, a strange thing occurs: Scary Godmother gets a different invitation. It’s unsigned but from a Secret Admirer begging her attendance on ‘The Mystery Date’

Captivated by the notion, Hannah Marie and little vampire Orson start canvassing all the likely candidates on the Fright Side – causing no end of trouble and embarrassment for Halloween’s startled and bemused Ambassador – before they all shamefully cross over to the real world where a real romantic surprise awaits the Scary Godmother…

The final book of the quartet was ‘The Boo Flu’ wherein our magical mystery madame succumbs to the worst of all eldritch aliments at the least favourable time, compelling Hannah Marie to step up, put on the big magic hat and ride the broomstick to marshal the monsters and take charge of all the necessary preparations if All Hallows Eve is to happen at all this year…

That’s a big ask for a little human girl, but help soon comes from all sorts of unexpected directions…

Almost as soon as the first book was released, Scary Godmother started popping up in comics too. Most of those tales are collected in a companion volume to this gleeful grimoire but there’s room here for one cheeky treat as ‘Tea for Orson’ (from Trilogy Tour Book) focuses on the vampire boy’s attempts to crash a girls-only soiree at Scary Godmother’s house. Harry the Werewolf also wants in – but more for the food than the company – and the banned boys’ combined, increasingly outrageous, efforts to gatecrash make for a captivating lesson in being careful what you wish for…

Wrapping up the tricks and treats is a liberal dose of ‘More Art’ in a huge and comprehensive ‘Scary Mother Sketch Book’ section; comprising roughs, designs, character development drawings, working paintings, promotional art and comic ads, design, background and model sheets and, for the animated specials, original book covers and rejected pages and scenes.

Still readily available – and now as a digital download too – Scary Godmother is a magical treat for youngsters of any vintage and would make a perfect alternative treat to candy and cakes…
Text and illustrations of Scary Godmother © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2010 Jill Thompson. All rights reserved.