Vibrant, wild, warm and enticing. These are just a few of the words to describe the charmingly bewitching tale of Kaleidoscope. This comic is one that is real, grounded, and ruminative while also being whimsical and dreamy. This comic allures you with its vibrancy, warm color pallet and hazy, dream-like presentation. The author and illustrator known only as Lady Nefertiti, gives you a comic that is not your average romance or young adult tale by writing complex, dynamic characters, having a relatable storyline and overall giving you a comic that is as empathetic as it is fantastical. If you are looking for a new comic to cuddle up with a blanket and cup of tea or just to take you on a new adventure, then this is one comic you’ll definitely want to add to your reading list.
Book Title: Kaleidoscope
Book Description: The story of Kaleidoscope follows the unique and quirky Dante. An odd and naive young woman stuck between two parts of her existence: the monochromatic, gold-lined past set to the tune of the 1920’s and the vibrant, multi-colored neon present. She experiences her past life through silent movie-like dreams and vivid, immersive visions that have the added benefit of not only showing Dante her past, but also the past life of her best friend Trish, who balances Dante’s rather nonchalant naivety with logic and aloofness. But their connection to their past isn’t just so that Dante can relive the 1920’s in high fashion; unfortunately these immersive visions have also revealed their tragic murders by the hand of a mysterious figure.
And as if the circumstances of Dante and Trish’s existences weren't already peculiar, they also have magical abilities. Abilities such as Dante’s control over the weather and Trish’s ability to render herself invisible just to name a few. With all this in mind, the story then follows Dante and Trish as they navigate life, experiencing love, betrayal, forgiveness as their past and present collide much like that of a Kaleidoscope.
Book Author: Lady Nefertiti
Publisher - Orgnization: Lady Nefertiti
Illustrator: Lady Nefertiti
- Interior Art(4)
- Cover Art(3)
Reviewing the Story
Kaleidoscope is an odyssey, but only in the most fantastical of ways. Much like a kaleidoscope, the plot is colorful with amazing, well written characters and captivating with its underlying conversations of love, trauma and emotional competence. Lady Nefertiti wrote her comic in a way that balances the wondrous magic of the world and it’s almost too human characters. I feel this is accomplished by having a very clean straightforward A plot and allowing all the B plots points to be valuable connectable pieces to the main narrative. In this manner, no conversation or detail is unimportant turning you from a passive viewer into an active reader.
I really enjoy how Kaleidoscope uses literary allusions and movie references in it’s narrative. From citing Dante’s Inferno in haunting, stylized text appearing at the top of each chapter, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” and even the name of the main character Dante to Dante’s endless use of movie references throughout the comic. The Inferno reference you almost don’t get immediately, but once you do, it adds yet another layer of amazing storytelling to this comic. As for the movie references, it operates as a form of communication for Dante, but also as a device to help us better understand Dante’s motivations and emotions. As you read through, you find that Dante’s connection to movies helps her cope with trauma and connect to the past version of herself– movies are a way that we can connect with Dante even though we may not be able to connect to her various traumatic experiences. It helps us and the other characters in the narrative to navigate her complex emotions in a unique yet instantly recognizable way.
In addition to Kaleidoscope literary allusions, movie references and captivating storytelling, Lady Nefertiti does a fantastic job creating characters that feel authentic and worth empathizing with. Characters like odd-ball and emotional rollercoaster Dante and Confused, straightforward and aloof Trish. Dante’s story is a tragic one of neglect, misunderstanding and continuous confusion as she tries to decipher her various lives and the memories associated with it. She does her best as most do, to understand who she is and rationalize why her life has taken the turns they have and why things transpire as they do. As the reader you feel that same confusion, sadness and empathize with her exhaustion from never being able to see the whole picture of her life.
In addition to Dante’s passionate character, you also have morally ambiguous characters like Virgil and Siah. Characters who appear to have one motive and are pretty simplistic overall, but through exposition and further plot development, you realize they all have something deeply complex about them– this changes your perception of the plot overall. But regardless of what character is involved, Lady Nefertiti does an astounding job of making every character and their interactions feel real as they are fantastical.
While the characters of Kaleidoscope are absolutely wonderful, I cannot skip the plot. As mentioned before, the story is written in a way where no detail is left unimportant, which is really fun for a “lore hunter” like myself. Every chapter is captivating and progresses in such a cool way; Lady Nefertiti does an amazing job at giving impactful payoffs to plot points and leaving you going “OOooohhhh,” everytime you finish a chapter. It’s the absolutely stunning story and writing in addition to the art that makes this comic one of a kind and nearly makes it impossible for you to put it down.
Reviewing the Art
Now I would be remiss if I discussed Kaleidoscope without taking the time to discuss it’s amazing art. Now being the color-loving, magical shoujo girl I am, anything with a pastel color palette and pretty art already has my interest, but my goodness the art in Kaleidoscope has my attention. Starting with the color palette and execution of color–just, wow. The art is enchanting and enthralling with bright, neon pastel colors, dreamlike panels and rich, diverse, melanated characters.
Starting with the choice of color palette in the comic, Lady Nefertiti fuses the soft, hazy luminous buzz of neon with light and dreamy pastel creating this spellbinding and otherworldly aesthetic. That is at least in the modern world; all of that changes when we are moved to the silent movie past. Once the reader is there, the art is achromic set in black and white only featuring skin tones, deep colors and dramatic accents of gold. But that is what is so amazing about the art for this comic. The color palette itself is as much a plot device as the dialogue itself. This is done by “color-coding” each part of the story. As mentioned, the main story is that dreamlike pastel world, while the past is achromic and lined with gold, but even flashbacks have a color-code, panels becoming crayscale and colors becoming muted as we venture into memories of the modern-era characters.
In addition to the fantastical color palette for Kaleidoscope, I have to say, I enjoyed the paneling for this comic. It’s set up in a way that each piece of the story flows and never feels interrupted. The paneling is creative and most importantly easy to read and follow. I personally enjoyed how when switching between different times, the panels bleed into each other as if each is a dream or memory of the other. I liked how some panels are purposefully disoriented, further adding into the emotion of the story and enjoyed seeing how everything fit together in this unique way. I loved the background art and the separation of colors when looking at certain objects or characters. I can’t forget to mention the absolutely amazing chapter art inspired by Dante’s Inferno. At the beginning of each chapter get insane chapter art pieces with the quote, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” A big theme and iconic line from the classic Inferno novel. This automatically sets the vibe for the chapter to come, and even better (or at least for me) gives you something to look forward to for the next chapter has slight variations of it’s unique art.
Finally regarding art, we must discuss one of the best displays of Lady Nefertiti’s work is regarding her beautiful characters. Not only are her character’s well written but they are well drawn too. Black characters in romance and magic style media always tend to feel like an afterthought. We don’t often get a lot of recognition if any in those spaces; so man was it refreshing and exciting to see beautifully drawn, diverse, beautiful melanated characters in this comic. Each character feels authentic, and like someone you may know. The hair, the skin tones, the full lips– it all was so gosh darn good. This paired with the character dialogue and story made for a triple treat comic, I really just couldn’t put down.
Everything in Kaleidoscope is intentional and fully throughout — you can tell that Lady Nefertiti really put an astronomical amount of love and effort into making her comic as enjoyable as she possibly could. As a black woman in the nerdosphere, I often don’t get to see myself or those who look like me represented in fantasy or romance works, so to say that this comic was exciting for me would really be an understatement. And it’s not to say that other works haven’t done representation before, However the way it’s done in this comic feels different. It combines fantasy elements like magic, real life discussions of trauma and human struggles and fantastic art to create this uncommon and captivating experience like no other comic has. It’s simply a fantastic read that I genuinely could not put down.
Kaleidoscope is fun, magical, whimsical and overall, just a treat. For my romance and fantasy lovers this is definitely a good addition to your readlist. And if you’re looking to read Kaleidoscope you can check it out on the Blank Sands Publishing app, BSP Comics available on both the app store for IOS and google play for Android or on the Webtoons app or https://www.webtoons.com/en/. If you want to support Lady Nefertiti in other ways consider subscribing to her Patreon, purchasing from her personal store or commissioning her for art via her website https://ladynefertiti.com.