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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
The most difficult writing challenge to meet successfully is one often associated with children’s books, but involving even more demanding requisites when aspiring to please a more mature audience. That is, a graphic novel or comic strip series. The Arizona Water Bar by Drew Aquilina, while most accurately described as a comic strip collection, exceeds the creative requirements of most children’s books, engages one beyond the expectations of many graphic novels, and certainly entertains its delighted fans at a level attained only by the best cartoonists. As said, the challenges are great. One must have a compelling story. One must create encapsulated pictures of exquisite composition. And, one must have a piercingly perfect sense of humor.
Drew Aquilina fulfills each expectation superbly in his graphic presentation, The Arizona Water Bar. The story: A teenage desert pack rat, Flo Webb, defies her parents’ expectations to open the first Water Bar in Northern Maricopa County, AZ. Her clientele: An assemblage of the most beguiling, drily hilarious indigenous creatures one could possibly imagine, including a cynical, claustrophobic tortoise, a squeamish, far-sighted snake, and a woefully pregnant quail who gives birth behind the bar. Any of these would be captivating as described, but as drawn with impeccable artistry by the author, they are impressively expressive, indelibly endearing, and insistently entertaining. And the cherry atop this delicious desert dessert? A piercingly perfect sense of humor scripted by one who knows his audience - both childlike and mature. A cartoon collection for the consummate comic aficionado.