Parasocial

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on BN.com Buy on Bookshop.org
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

1
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 04 Feb 2024

Talking about this book? Use #Parasocialgraphicnovel #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

In the middle of the pandemic, a fading genre-TV actor—fresh from his long-running series' cancellation—collides with an obsessive fan at a Texas convention. When she lures him to her home, he'll have to put on the greatest performance of his life simply to survive until morning. Unless, of course, he's the real monster...

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed Dracula, Motherf**Ker! duo Alex de Campi (Archie vs. Predator, Kat & Mouse) and Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Jughead) reunite for another stylish horror reinterpretation, this time the psychosexual thriller.

Early praise for Parasocial:

"De Campi and Henderson follow the success of their reimagining of vampire mythology, Dracula, Motherf**ker!, with a stylish psychosexual thriller examining the dynamic between celebrities and their fans... De Campi’s fast-paced script takes increasingly exciting twists while posing provocative questions about what celebrities owe to those who place them on a pedestal. Henderson varies her line quality and color palette from one scene to the next to evoke layers of subtext and depth of character as the story builds to its intense climax. VERDICT A provocative and harrowing thriller with a distinct and passionately expressed perspective on the modern world." —Library Journal (Starred Review)

“A horrifyingly compelling portrait of loneliness and obsession.” —Sarah Gailey, bestselling author of Just Like Home, The Echo Wife

"...Captures the general strangeness of conventions...The fickle nature of fandom, and the mercenary relationship between actor and audience, is shown through authentic-looking social media postings and text messages, giving the conflict between Lily and Luke a convincing, claustrophobic background. Luke and Lily are complex characters, and their interactions, both verbal and physical, are tense and exciting... The book uses bold colors and expert linework to convey literal images, but also moods and attitudes... Parasocial is the gripping graphic novel in which a minor celebrity is taken hostage by a fan." —Foreword Reviews

"Loved it. Misery in the social media age is the obvious reference, but it's smarter in its refusal to put creatives on a pedestal and dwells on our performances and the way we fail to see one another. It's also got a playful, petrifying approach to the medium, with a real understanding of the impressionistic effect of cartooning line, expert integrating of media... If you liked The Wicked + The Divine, you should be all over this." —Kieron Gillen

In the middle of the pandemic, a fading genre-TV actor—fresh from his long-running series' cancellation—collides with an obsessive fan at a Texas convention. When she lures him to her home, he'll...


Advance Praise

"De Campi and Henderson follow the success of their reimagining of vampire mythology, Dracula, Motherf**ker!, with a stylish psychosexual thriller examining the dynamic between celebrities and their fans... De Campi’s fast-paced script takes increasingly exciting twists while posing provocative questions about what celebrities owe to those who place them on a pedestal. Henderson varies her line quality and color palette from one scene to the next to evoke layers of subtext and depth of character as the story builds to its intense climax. VERDICT A provocative and harrowing thriller with a distinct and passionately expressed perspective on the modern world." —Library Journal (Starred Review)

“A horrifyingly compelling portrait of loneliness and obsession.” —Sarah Gailey, bestselling author of Just Like Home, The Echo Wife

"...Captures the general strangeness of conventions...The fickle nature of fandom, and the mercenary relationship between actor and audience, is shown through authentic-looking social media postings and text messages, giving the conflict between Lily and Luke a convincing, claustrophobic background. Luke and Lily are complex characters, and their interactions, both verbal and physical, are tense and exciting... The book uses bold colors and expert linework to convey literal images, but also moods and attitudes... Parasocial is the gripping graphic novel in which a minor celebrity is taken hostage by a fan." —Foreword Reviews

"Loved it. Misery in the social media age is the obvious reference, but it's smarter in its refusal to put creatives on a pedestal and dwells on our performances and the way we fail to see one another. It's also got a playful, petrifying approach to the medium, with a real understanding of the impressionistic effect of cartooning line, expert integrating of media... If you liked The Wicked + The Divine, you should be all over this." —Kieron Gillen

"De Campi and Henderson follow the success of their reimagining of vampire mythology, Dracula, Motherf**ker!, with a stylish psychosexual thriller examining the dynamic between celebrities and their...


Marketing Plan

  • Digital and physical galley giveaways at Publishers Weekly’s U.S. Book Show & ALA Annual
  • Trade review coverage outreach including Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, ForeWord, and Booklist
  • Targeted newsletter & email marketing including BookRiot podcast ad spots & newsletter promotions
  • Online interviews, reviews, & podcast coverage with national entertainment outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter, Salon, Gizmodo, IGN, and more, and comics media outlets such as Comic Book Resources, ComicBook.com, and more
  • “Most Anticipated” Fall releases outreach
  • Digital and physical galley giveaways at Publishers Weekly’s U.S. Book Show & ALA Annual
  • Trade review coverage outreach including Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, ForeWord, and Booklist
  • ...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781534399372
PRICE $18.99 (USD)
PAGES 128

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 157 members


Featured Reviews

Parasocial takes the reader on a harrowing ride in the dangers of fame... It was dark, gritty, and unexpected!

Parasocial follows the toxic celebrity, Luke Indiana. It isn't a spoiler to say that he might not be the best human but his public image is still celebrated and enjoyed in the convention setting. However, it is upon leaving this convention that one of his fans takes an opportunity to have a private moment with this celebrity.

I really enjoyed this story from start to finish. First and foremost, the artwork is absolutely exceptional! The way that the art reflects emotions that the characters are trying to convey, I thought was really creative and it is done so well. When Luke puts on his charm the color scheme and the art style softens, however when things get dark, the art reflects those dark moments as well. I can't speak highly enough of the art and the illustrations here.

The story itself is also super creative I thought. I love that the story follows Rogue Nebula at times, the mention of the CSI show creates some fun elements and then there is the gut-wrenching real world all at the same time. Additionally, the author and artist notes at the back gave even more insight into this story and made me love it even more.

This is perfect for fans of Stephen King's Misery, the Castle Rock show, and Black Mirror!

Was this review helpful?

Congratulations on making me so viscerally uncomfortable (in the way the best horror does) in broad daylight that I just contemplated living in the shower until I felt clean enough to exist again. Also major props to Erica Henderson’s constantly shifting art reflecting the constantly shifting mental states in this. Highly recommended; pick this up as soon as you can.

Was this review helpful?

First of all, thank you to NetGalley and Image comics for providing me with an eARC!

I read this entire book in one sitting, because it captivated me. Because we are in a time with so many parasocial relationships, it feels like an updated version of a number of other stories. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing! The familiarity of the story makes it quick to read. I will say, however, I would like a bit more development of the characters involved, because while you can clearly get a sense of them, this book feels too short! I genuinely wanted to see more and more as the story went on.

Beyond the writing, the art in this book is beautiful. The use of color to provide emotional context to the scene stands out strongly, and the way that the lines shift and change to reflect the characters' situations adds an emotional depth beyond just the writing. I genuinely recommend this book to anyone who loves a quick thriller, and I am absolutely going to come back to it to read again.

*I also appreciate the two essays in the back from the authors. I love getting insight into the creative process and the essays provide an extra layer of context that made the book stand out even more!

Was this review helpful?

A wild story about fame and the extremes that fans could go to to gain the affection of their idol. A very exciting and fast read perfect for a touch of wild adventure

Was this review helpful?

Is there anything quite as terrifying as that one particular area of fandom spaces? I'm not so sure there is.

Luke Indiana was an action star on a decidedly C-List show for many years. Now, the show is ended and his marriage along with it. The latter fact he learns at the absolute worst time, while at a convention in the middle of Texas during COVID. Still reeling from the news and what his life is rapidly becoming, he happens to meet his number one fan. Lily, originally planning to try to hook up with him in a hotel bar, changes her plans on the fly. You can see where this is going.

PARASOCIAL is a fascinating look at the underbelly of fandom. While not particularly based on any specific individuals, it's a story that rings all too true to people in fandom spaces. It's a terrifying study, a meditative piece that hits its marks well and leaves you with an odd taste in your mouth when it's through. The afterwards by the artist and writer and well-worth a read, each reflecting on their own thoughts and experiences regarding how parasocial behavior is distressingly on the rise.

I'll echo de Campi and say that if anyone sees themselves reflected in this book, please seek health. Even if you're on the edges of it... really give yourself a think. As fun as fandom is, it isn't everything. Not by a long shot.

Was this review helpful?

Good story, cool concept. I would have really liked more back story on Lily and an insight of what happened to her but it was still pretty good.

Was this review helpful?

This book is a grim, sexy, creepy and life-affirming descent into madness. And through its graphic novel format it gives fresh life to what Stephen King did through the page with Misery. I loved this.

Was this review helpful?

This was a great graphic novel that takes a look at celebrity and our relation to it. The obsession and the delusion that comes from connecting with the idea or presentation of a person through a screen.

The art was fantastic, the characters very unlikeable in the best way, and the story very messed up.

Highly recommend.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial is a short graphic novel that follows a celebrity and a fan's extreme parasocial relationship with them. It took turns that I wasn't expecting and got very intense. It was definitely a thriller. There are of couple of themes explored like parasocial relationships (of course), escapism, and survival. At the end of the book, there are creator discussions about the inspiration behind Parasocial. I thought those were interesting in learning the about the creative process and hidden details.

Parasocial relationships have always existed with famous figures, but obviously that has skyrocketed with the rise of social media, especially thanks to Instagram and Cameo. The story is extreme, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. It forces ourselves to take a step back and evaluate our own parasocial relationships.

Was this review helpful?

A psychological thriller that explores the precarious nature of fame and celebrity obsession.

Parasocial introduces us to Luke Indiana, a TV actor whose long-running show has ended and now he’s struggling to find his footing. We see his happy-go-lucky famous side and the darker reality in his private moments. I love that the illustrations get brighter and darker depending on which side we’re exploring.

After Luke’s car breaks down on a country road at night, a young woman offers to help him and next thing he knows he’s waking up tied to a chair in her kitchen. The story becomes a life or death struggle as the two characters spar both literally and figuratively.

I wish this story did a little more to subvert the genre, as the story beats follow a well-worn path. At the end of the story, the authors provide their insight about what inspired them to write the story and it adds a lot of interesting background and context. After reading it, I flipped back to the beginning and read it again.

Thank you to NetGalley and Image Comics for this advanced reader copy.

This book is best read at your local Comic Con, while waiting in line to meet your favourite actor. Make sure to bring a pen and paper, you’re going to want to take notes.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial is a fantastic commentary on when an obsession goes too far and the lines blur as to who the actual villain might be.
It is a quick read that I imagine is a nightmare of every actor/actress, whether they attend comic cons or not. The idea of someone seemingly harmless luring you into a false sense of security just to take advantage of it is a terrifying concept that unfortunately happens in real life. The commentary is realistic and a clear fight for survival. However, with the way it is written it will leave you questioning who the real villain is of the story.

Was this review helpful?

Disclaimer: I am an Image Comics fangirl. Alex de Campi's Parasocial is Misery for Gen Z, essentially, and I don't mind it because over the millenia how fans interact with their idols has evolved in different ways, and yet remains the same - this is a timeless story, but viewed through the lens of how social media has affected these relationships between fans and idols, leading to the new term of 'Parasocial'. And if you don't know what that is... well, read the story :)

Really though, a parasocial relationship is, essentially, a one-sided relationship usually enhanced by a very online celebrity sharing so much of their life that their fans begin to think they *really* know them, or that they're actually friends with this person. And that is the crux of this story, and how horrifyingly far it can be taken.

I will say I wish de Campi took the story further. I would've liked to have learned more about the two main characters prior to the conflict, because this felt a bit like reading cliff notes. The art by Erica Henderson is in one of my favorite styles (if you enjoy the art of The Wicked + The Divine or Morning Glories, you'll like this book). I want to read more of Alex de Campi's work too - she has a pretty interesting catalog.

Was this review helpful?

"Parasocial" by Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson is a fast paced edge-of-your-seat examination of the perils of extreme fandom. Instead of focusing solely on the actions of deranged and delusional fans the creative team behind this book shows that the behavior media stars and celebrities can be at least as disturbing. This book is violent and unsettling but it is well worth the read for anyone who has the stomach for it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Image Comics, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review,

Was this review helpful?

"Misery" updated for modern fandom (there's even a tiny hat-tip to Stephen King) and de Campi and Henderson have knocked this one out of the park. A perfectly-executed thriller.

I think it's hard to do realistic depictions of fandom, particularly the more extreme sides of fandom (as is necessitated in this case), without coming across as either cruel or simplistic, and it speaks to Alex de Campi's strength as a writer and lived knowledge of fandom that she does it perfectly, and makes it look easy.

I'm in awe of Erica Henderson's style and colour choices (that ending scene!) and really appreciated the afterward giving more of her thoughts afterwards. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Oh, and I LOVED the idea of a QR code at the end of the book, leading to a playlist of songs referenced in the text! More of this with music-heavy books, please.

Was this review helpful?

This was a fascinating graphic novel. I read this in one sitting, whilst also listening to the soundtrack to accompany the pages I was on. I do wish this graphic novel had been longer though.

The accompanying soundtrack was a nice bonus, and of course Henderson's illustrations, particularly their use of colour was phenomenal.

Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson provide a representation of parasocial interactions, that go beyond straight storytelling; leading the reader to question aspects of celebrity and fandom, and prompting a reflection of arrangements surrounding fan conferences. The story allowed me as a reader to ruminate on the necessity (?), and pros and cons of audiences having mediated encounters with their "heroes". Scarily, the tale even nudged me to to analyze my own fandom of certain media.

After reading de Campi's Afterword, on the last few pages, I was even more invested in this piece. I am seeking out her previous works now!

I want more of this tale, I want more of these characters.

Was this review helpful?

I really like this! It definitely highlights some really important and toxic fan/celebrity dynamics that are kept taboo, and I appreciate the authors for delving into such a serious and complex issue.

The art style works for me, especially the night scenes and the ones with more experimental color.

My only criticism is I wish it were longer. I'm interested in Luke's life and relationships, as well as Lily. Right now, they feel a bit black-and-white. I would have liked more complexity in Lily than just Obsessed Fan.

Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

A sharp piece of comic booking that holds a dirty broken mirror up to fandoms of any kind and the real life horrors of taking things too far. Unlikable but realistic characters and some really interesting concepts came together to make quite the comic. Definitely good for those not afraid of the horrors of parasocial relationships.

Was this review helpful?

Okay wow!! This book had an unexpected turn and i loved it. the casual queerness was beautiful, and the art was a breath of a fresh air.

rep: white queer man

spice: none

Was this review helpful?

The art was amazing and the story was really good i enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend i loved reading this with art.

Was this review helpful?

This story follows a fan of a slightly washed up celeb who starts to develop a parasocial relationship with this celeb who was a star in a space series akin to Star Trek in vibe.
This story ends up taking a dark turn as the celeb gets into a car crash while leaving a convention, our main character finds him easily as she was following him, planning to ‘meet’ him in a bar later.
This story develops into a sort of kidnap story where our main character ‘lily’ drugs the celeb with ketamine and ends up stabbing him in the back and leaving him for dead in her burning house planning to lie and say that he was a drug dealer who was breaking in.
Overall, I would say the first half of this book was around a three stars because it was slower than what I would’ve liked it to be but I acknowledge that it was used to propel us into the fast paced action which is the last half. The only reason that this isn’t a perfect rating is because of how slow the first half of this book is

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC!

A fun, twisty, well illustrated tale! I really enjoyed the art, and the pacing. The premise is super interesting as well. Well done!

Was this review helpful?

An unnerving and timely look at parasocial relationships that will have you reexamining your "relationship" to celebrities .

Was this review helpful?

This book is a nightmare. As a fan that frequents autograph alley at conventions, this was a really fun, fresh take on King’s well-loved Misery. The aspect of perspective is really well-timed and all the nerd culture references spread throughout were exciting to find. I just wish it had been longer!

Was this review helpful?

Something Supernatural coded is happening here...

I think this is supposed to seem outlandish and out there the same way that Misery did once upon a time, but I think it's almost more frightening how real it does actually feel. I'm sure both the author and the artist have spent some time in the trenches based on some of the references scattered throughout, and it really makes the book shine. It wouldn't have been improved by being longer, but I would have read another fifty pages of this.

An underrated element of the relationship dynamics here is really in the group message chains. There's the obvious horror of the actual parasocial relationship celebrity abducted by obsessive fan, but I think anyone who has met a former boy band stan or SPN RPF author is familiar with that kind of fear. But the way this explores the way relationship ties are made in fandom spaces is really interesting. Where you might be able to talk ad nauseam about one thing and even share certain deeply personal details about your life while ultimately knowing nothing about the people your talking to. It builds to a really clean conclusion that I really enjoyed.

We aren't exactly re-writing the playbook or anything here but classics are classics for a reason.

Was this review helpful?

A modern twist to King's Misery. It was fun with really good artwork. The only con I have is I wish it was much longer! Goodreads Review sent.

A link to my video review to come!

Was this review helpful?

As someone who goes to conventions to sometimes meet my favorite celebrities, I often wonder what they think of us fans and what they do if they encounter EXTREME fans. This book shows a case in which a fan is seemingly harmless but then the obsession rears its ugly head and the celebrity with whom the fan is obsessed with becomes a part of a "Misery" sort of situation.

4 stars

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial uses the graphic format to take a hard look at celebrity and fandom, and it seriously works, y'all. Employing a blend of styles and colors to perfection and including perfectly placed social threads, fan fic, and a curated playlist, this graphic novel had me hooked from the cover on. My one complaint, and the reason I gave this one four stars instead of five, is that the pacing is just too fast. Sure, it was a quick read, and intentionally so. Still, every plot turn felt too abrupt, like the reader was being pushed ahead in some sort of effort to rapidly reach the end. Even ten more pages could have evened the pacing and made it feel more fully developed.

Overall, an excellent read that is more than discussion worthy.

Was this review helpful?

If you like misery you’d definitely love this book. Lily is definitely unhinged but I love how they made the “victim” a villian in his own right. It made him seem more realistic and the story more enjoyable over all

Was this review helpful?

A well written horror thriller. The art is beautifully done and complements the text masterfully. I would even go so far as to say that this graphic novel could even be this generation's Misery. Definitely worth the read for horror fans and fans of thrillers.

Was this review helpful?

A really great and intriguing read. I loved the characters and the story. Will look out for more from this author.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial offered a unique and modern graphic novel reading experience. The story was compelling and the art did a great job establishing and maintaining tone throughout. If anything, I would like more backstory and character development, which I suppose would make great material for a possible series.

Was this review helpful?

This gritty graphic novel peels the glossy veneer of celebrity life, and exposes the disquieting facets of obsessive fixation that often lurk beneath the devoted world of fandoms.

Was this review helpful?

[Review Copy provided by Image Comics and Netgalley]

This was a roller coaster of and adventure that really did well representing the toxic fan culture that is present online and can bleed into the real world. The art style and coloring is amazing as it shifts in style and tone to imbue different emotions really worked for the story that was being told.

I will say it left me wanting more, the ending felt a bit rushed and I wish we had some more time with it to really send the message home.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks so much to Image Comics and Netgalley for the ARC of this title to read and review!

I really loved this story! The concept of unwanted fan interaction(s), kidnapping, and a life spiraling out of control was very well executed in this graphic novel. It left me wanting more of the story after the slight cliffhanger of an ending. The art style was fun and I really liked the use of color and differing styles to portray different languages and drug side effects.

Was this review helpful?

Read this if your favourite:
- Stephen King book is Misery
- iCarly episode is iPsycho
- Social media is Tumblr

I love that this was transparently about those awful marvel shows, and plays with those “stalker fan” tropes so well. If you’ve ever read a written person fanfic, read a Y/N celebrity fanfic, or wish your parents sold you to a band, this is for you. Besides, isn’t being called out for your fanfic habits a horror in itself?

Was this review helpful?

This was a really interesting and crazy short story! With really beautiful, cool artwork. i love Misery, so this plot always works for me. And the psychology of fandom and when it goes too far, is really interesting and scary And a very sad ending!

Was this review helpful?

"Parasocial" by Alex De Campi is a captivating graphic novel that delves into the complex dynamics of obsession, fandom and media consumption and the blurred lines between reality and fiction.

With stunning artwork that immerses readers in a visually striking world, De Campi's storytelling shines as she explores the consequences of our obsession with digital connections. The characters are richly developed, unlikeable to the point of pity, and there really Is a sense of "holy shit, did that just happen??"

I think the best part about the graphic novel was how easily I could enter the shoes of Lily with regard to my own fandom and how chilling that was. We really all have to examine how we think we know actors and the characters they portray, especially after reading this.

Was this review helpful?

this is exactly what you think it is going to be - an exploration of the dangers of parasocial relationships on all fronts (the artist, the fan, media, etc.) the author even acknowledged in the author's notes that this story trajectory has been done so many times the path is practically a highway. that doesn't mean that this story is boring. it's the same story we know and fear but in a more modern relatable setting - they didn't have conventions during misery! ... i don't think. and the use of color and tone really elevates this story from a "been there, done that" to something fresh and cool

Was this review helpful?

Honestly, when I requested this graphic novel, I didn’t know what it was about, but wow did it not disappoint. I started out reading it and pretty soon I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what happened to the protagonist.

I love the artwork in this story. The colors reflect the mood of each scene perfectly and the format of the panels makes it very easy to read and compliments this tell of horror very nicely.

Was this review helpful?

✨E-ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review✨
This was a quick, jarring read that gives the vibe of Stephen King’s Misery, in a more modern, stan culture comic con setting.
The devolving art structure to portray increasing panic, stress or pain is effective and helped to give a lot of pace to the story.
However I’m not super attached to anyone, and because of that it felt like reading the finale to a long running show without any of the previous context.

Was this review helpful?

My only complaint about this would be that it's quite short and could have been expanded a bit more. I love the bits of ambiguity at the end of the book and the art is phenomenal.

Was this review helpful?

Misery for the fandom age. This graphic novel was brilliant--punchy, horrifying, gorgeously illustrated, and so authentically rooted in modern fandom culture that I regularly wanted to squirm out of my skin. I don't think I will ever recover from the psychic damage of an AO3 screenshot being employed so immaculately for visual storytelling.

Many thanks to Image Comics, NetGalley and the authors for the eARC!

Was this review helpful?

Oh, I was NOT expecting THIS! Wow! Okay, while the creators say that this isn’t about any particular celebrity, I would highly recommend this to anyone involved in or who vicariously watched the Supernatural fandom. There’s a lot of parallels that could be drawn between the fictional show “Rogue Nebula” and early Supernatural. I’m sure someone could find a more suitable match in the real world, but this is what immediately hit me.

Our main character is Luke Indiana, once a hot-ticket sci-fi actor, now lucky to get hired onto a web series. Also, his wife just told him she wants a divorce. Also also, one of his fans just abducted him and is ready to recreate Stephen King’s “Misery.”

Despite being the clear victim here, Luke isn’t flawless. While he’s a good actor, he can’t hide his disdain for his fans. Covid protocols seem more a convenience for him, as we often see him unmasked around people, but gladly standing behind a glass barrier for photo ops. He’s there for the money, not the fans, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, acting is a job, like any other. But we see genuine revulsion in his face several times, and it become obvious that each fan isn’t a random person, they’re a meal ticket.

Granted, his captor doesn’t treat him as a person, either! Lily, our antagonist, definitely wants to enact some of her fantasies on the helpless man. We even see a mental screenshot of a spicy fanfic on AO3 (thank you so much, Campi and Henderson, for making it AO3!), and I get the impression she isn’t just the reader, but the writer.

I could see this book being poorly received by the younger part of fandom who is still deep in their own parasocial stage. Teens, early 20s, when they’ve not had to watch a few falls from grace already. But, being in my late-30s and having gone through the fandom wringer, so much of this was relatable. The overinvolvement in a celebrity’s private life, the awkward convention questions, the creeping right to someone’s face. It felt a bit too real. And that’s why I loved it!

Advanced reader copy provided by the publisher.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial is a hilarious, scathing takedown of online fan culture, taken to the ultimate extreme, Misery-style. Everything about it is as clever and deliberate as its name; it’s clear the creators are (or have been, at some point in time) as steeped in fandom as the individuals they seek to satirise, lending this project a refreshing credibility and authenticity.

The plot is simple, which I think worked in its favour - de Campi gives you just enough information to understand what’s going on, while also successfully avoiding becoming bogged down in her own lore, an issue that can easily affect works involving fictional fandom.

The art was stunning, and again, so intentional; conscious choices by Henderson regarding the use of colour, framing, and even linework work to complement and support the narrative on multiple levels.

I appreciated Henderson and de Campi’s afterwords, too. It’s always fascinating to learn more about the artistic process, as well as about the origins of a specific project. Parasocial was clearly born of some very real industry grievances, creativity, and good humour - an excellent pairing (OT3 material?) if I do say so myself.

Was this review helpful?

"Parasocial" is an intriguing addition to the graphic novel world, offering a unique take on the abduction horror genre while delving into the disturbing world of extreme fandom.

The story revolves around a science fiction series star, a character who might not be as likable as one would expect from a typical protagonist. The creators have chosen to portray him as a misogynist and manipulator, diving deep into the murky waters of his psyche. This decision adds layers of intrigue to the story as it challenges readers to grapple with a character they may not entirely like, yet still find themselves fascinated by his journey.

One of the standout aspects of "Parasocial" is the use of color throughout the graphic novel. The use of pink for fantasy sequences and red for violent scenes is an interesting artistic decision, it offers a stark contrast between the antagonist’s escapism into a world of fantasy and the harsh realities of violence. The choice to employ color as a means to communicate emotions is not only visually captivating but also incredibly effective in enhancing the storytelling.

The story itself is a chilling exploration of the dark side of fandom, portraying a super fan who goes to extreme lengths to make a personal connection with the object of their obsession. "Parasocial" adeptly showcases the power and potential dangers of parasocial relationships, particularly in the age of social media and celebrity worship.

Despite its uncomfortable subject matter and an unlikable lead character, "Parasocial" will manage to keep readers engaged throughout. It doesn't hold back in its portrayal of disturbing events, and it serves as a stark reminder of the dangers lurking in fandom culture.

Was this review helpful?

I freakn LOVE this book!! The art is beautiful and the storyline had me glued to my chair. Finished in one sitting. This book was fresh and rewarding. I plan on purchasing this book for a couple of ppl who are into graphic novels. Kunis to the author!!

#NETGALLEY #PARASOCIAL #

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this! It did move really quickly, but for me who's gone to/worked at/known people who were guests at conventions for just short of a billion years now I went from "haha oh wow, too familiar" to page turning to see what would happen next. Definitely inspired by Misery (even with a shout out to Stephen King by the main character), Parasocial follows an actor after the end of his popular TV series as he's 'saved' from a car accident from a fan who's been following him(/paying for photo ops, etc) for years. It's a mess, and I liked the afterward from the creators afterward both talking about the inspirations and that both Luke and Lily are supposed to be unlikable (and there's even some unreliable narration going on from Luke too even if it's a third person POV graphic novel) with a little mystery...

Thank you to NetGalley and Image Comics for the free eARC in exchage for this honest review!

Was this review helpful?

This was pretty fun, albeit short. Parasocial relationships can be pretty creepy & I think anyone that enjoys content of any sort can have parasocial thoughts here & there. Of course there have been extreme cases. The fact that they exist makes the idea of experiencing it almost equally as unsettling for the celebrity as the fan. It has gotten worse with rise of social media celebs since they're more accessible to the average person. I appreciate the author's notes at the end, & I like that there's a Spotifly playlist. There's a mention of Stephen King in the story, which I don't usually mind, but it's a bit corny for this story since it's so similar to one of his. You can probably guess which one. It's not a copy/paste though.

Was this review helpful?

Modern day Misery via Twitter and texts sprinkled over a heaping plate of overpriced con food. In short, a great read for those who know and enjoy conventions (like myself) and are fascinated by the phenomenon of parasocial relationships that seem to be more and more prevalent these days.

Was this review helpful?

This was such a tense story. Its a compelling look at when the line from casual enjoyer and stalker gets crossed. A spooky tale if you've ever dabbled in fandom spaces or experienced any of that "star struck" feeling toward someone you don't actually know. The art style lends perfectly to the tension of the story as well, and the after pages discussing the way that they shifted the appearances of the characters based on their perception at the moment is inspiring. This was a wonderful read and I can't wait to recommend it to others who want something to give them chills.

Thank you to Image and Netgalley for the opportunity to review!!

Was this review helpful?

I received an eARC for this Graphic novel from Image Comics. Parasocial was a fairly quick read, but with several interesting features. In the breaks between panels or in the margins of the pages, there are song titles which are featured in a Spotify playlist. I find this to be a really awesome way to break the 2 dimensional medium, and I hope to see more of this in the future. That said, I didn't know about the soundtrack until the very last page, so I hope there is some way to get that information to the beginning of the story. The art was a great way of portraying the tone of the story, gritty at times, contrasts of light and dark for differing moods, and different styles that added the "social" portion to the story. I was interested in this story because it seemed like it would be very Stephen King's "Misery" adjacent. I liked how innovative this Graphic Novel was, and I enjoyed it until the very end, never quite knowing what would happen for any of the characters.

Was this review helpful?

An interesting graphic novel which for me didn't quite rise to the potential.
The story is about a fan obsessed with a star (think Stephen Kings' Misery)? but with a twist.
The story is mostly strong, the art is good, and some of the choices are brilliant.
The problem for me was the ending. I wouldn't go into spoiler territory, but the final part of the book didn't have the payout and resolution the story deserved. The story didn't so much as resolved itself as it just stopped.

Was this review helpful?

I was extremely impressed with this book. Erica Henderson carries her art style throughout nicely, and Alex Decampi takes the obsessive fan trips and winds it up in original ways to make it damn hard to take sides with either Luke or Lily. Excellent afterwords from both as well so overall a very, very nice package.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial relationships can be terrifying if the person following a celebrity can’t separate fiction from reality. Toxic fans are scary fans and the dark side of fan culture has never been so beautifully or horrifically illustrated as in this graphic novel.

Recommended for: fans of Misery by Stephen King; horror graphic novel readers

Content warning: violence; gore; stalking; kidnapping

I received a digital ARC of this graphic novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Holy hell this was a mind trip. And leans very well into the lives of celebrities and the lines fans cross due to…..whatever.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial, a new graphic novel from Image Comics, is Stephen King’s Misery for the TikTok era. A fan kidnaps her idol. And in the process, we consider fandom's exploitative, transactional nature.

Writer Alex De Campi has history-making exploitation comics with her excellent Dark Horse series, GRINDHOUSE. And she previously collaborated with Erica Henderson on their Blaxploitation-homage DRACULA MOTHERF**KER! I loved that book, with its moody pastel pallet. It seems the pair developed a working rhythm because *Parasocial* is a standout work for both creators.

Unlike its celebrity protagonist, Luke Indiana, Parasocial is not just surface-level good looks. The work wonders a provocative question: why might a fan deserve revenge on her idol? The introduction uses a montage to show all the people at the fan convention and the scope of the event. For a moment, the focus is on one crying person offering a deeply revealing confession.

Fandom is a pay-to-play. You belong to the community as long as you can afford to belong to the community. You can’t be a fan if you can’t afford the new thing. Fan conventions and costumes, merch, signings, and photographs cost money. This background character is getting into five figures of credit card debt so she can see her friends and pretend to be a cat.

Something disconcerting is going on here. When our celebrity protagonist, Luke Indiana, is tied to a chair in his #1 fan’s kitchen, he asks why he should remember her. She points to her bulletin board. I count five pictures of Luke and Lizzie together, so they met five times, hugged her, and each time, she probably paid $100 to get those photographs. That’s $500 for five minutes of his time.

And despite that, the fans persist. They dream of a chance with their celebrity crush, but this book coyly points out that it will only happen if the celebrity is hogtied and kidnapped. Is it any surprise Lizzy’s filled with rage? The way stars treat the people who make them rich is similar to a master and servant.

While short, every panel counts, and I immediately reread it. I loved this book. I should kidnap the creators and tell them so! It’s out now from Image, so get it from a comic shop or online retailer.

Thank you, NetGalley and Image Comics, for providing an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I read this so unbelievably fast, that I was heartbroken it ended so quickly. I was extremely upset, even with the very cool explanation and epilogue at the end, that we did not see more happen between Luke and Lilly. I wanted to REALLY see Luke go through it, even though I was terrified of her. I also equally disliked him. This is the ONLY reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5, it was too short and leaves you wanting 500 more pages.

From other reviews before I decided to request this, I expected something a lot more dark and gritty. And although it is messed up - it was not anything crazy. It has disturbing themes, focused on social dynamics. And actual blood, violence, and death. But it was not unnecessarily gory. I greatly enjoyed this, even if I overestimated that it would be a gorefest, because I felt like too much of this would've taken away from the main point of the story. Parasocial relationships. There is a telling part when Lily sees a scar on Luke, and knows him so intimately that she is able to say the scar came from a Appendectomy. Except it didn't, something that drives home the point that she doesn't know him. And never will, because not only does she not personally know him - but he's a consistent liar. I also LOVED seeing the 'simp gone crazy' angle come from a male victim perspective.

The art in this is incredibly well thought out, down to the color schemes of the panels. The fine details, like blurring/double lines when a character begins to lose consciousness. I highly recommend reading the author's note/epilogue, because it further helps put everything into clearer context. Something that made me love this novel even more. It's a necessary read in a day and age of consistent parasocial relationships, and their dangers.

Thank you so much to Netalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this amazing novel!

Was this review helpful?

Anyone who's ever participated in fandom culture will get a real kick out of this book.

It follows a washed up actor as he goes to a convention but afterwards has a run in with a rather enthusiastic fan.

This book is brutal, the colouring and style is bold and brash but it works. I enjoyed the lack of subtlety, we know realistically what's going to go down so let's just go with it. There's a couple of twists though.

I wanted more, we got bits of Luke's background with rounded out his character more & I wanted the same treatment for Lily.

A fun thriller I'd definitely recommend!

Was this review helpful?

This was an interesting take on a well-known conceit. It was a good read for spooky season. A fun and gripping story.

Was this review helpful?

Luke Indiana is an aging star, making his rounds on the convention circuit based on his famous role on a science fiction series. Despite his dislike of his own fans, one fan decides to take their love for Luke to the next level and kidnap him. Thus begins a horrific game of will between a star and his biggest fan.
Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson have created a great work examining the relationship between celebrities and their most devoted fans. It takes the modern unhealthy online relationship to the extreme and gives a modern update to Stephen King's misery. The art is gorgeous and throughout the book there is a playlist you can listen to while you read. I do wish the book was longer, cause I was enjoying it so much until the book had to wrap up quickly towards the end.
Thank you to NetGalley and Image Comics for a copy of Parasocial in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This was a lovely and exciting graphic novel. I'd actually like to find a physical copy for my personal library.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

The art is good and evokes a lot of emotion--the scenes revolving an altered state of awareness was done extremely well. (I feel like the cover is exceptionally homoerotic for something that has no gay representation save for the in-universe shipping lol)

The main characters are fleshed out and written well. At first I thought that we didn't see enough of Luke's public persona to get an idea of why the (at the time nameless) fan would develop a parasocial relationship with him, but by the time the climax hit I was like, "ah, yeah, I get it now".

The topic and theme isn't one that I've seen a lot of, but I also feel like it didn't give me anything new? Still an enjoyable, albeit fairly quick, read.

Was this review helpful?

This was a really entertaining read although it did remind me of Stephen Kings Misery... a female fan with an obsession acts upon it in a chance encounter! Great artwork and an easy to follow storyline. I liked Parasocial a lot.

Was this review helpful?

3.75 ⭐️
I was taken by complete surprise with how much I enjoyed this. I had no idea what to expect but I found myself laughing quite a bit at this meta commentary on parasocial relationships.
This felt like a comic book written with the same tone as a camp Netflix original slasher.
It even has small details like songs for certain scenes almost like footnotes or subtitles on a tv show which was such a small but unique addition to this experience. The author even gives reasoning for each scene song chosen at the end of the author’s note, and TRUST ME you are going to want to read the author’s note.
How this story came to fruition was so unbelievable that I almost thought it was part of the comic and I had to double check that it was in fact the author’s note. This read is worth it for that alone.
I had such a good time with this short story. If you are in the mood for a quick comic with a sense of humor on social commentary and fandoms then give this a try.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this work in return for my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial combines the frantic fandom culture of Tumblr in 2015 and Stephen King's Misery. This beautifully illustrated, full-color graphic novel quickly turns from online stan culture to a psychological thriller. It has such an interesting setup, combining in-person fan conventions with the media behind it - Instagram posts, server group chats, an ongoing playlist, the TV show itself, and fandom lingo. Parasocial explores a growing online problem of thinking we know our fans/stans and becoming unhinged from reality. I loved how this graphic novel changed my sympathies throughout and had me questioning who I was rooting for. I wish the ending had more clarity, but the ambiguity effectively kept this story in the forefront of my mind days later.

Was this review helpful?

I received a copy of this from NetGalley.

I didn't think I'd like this one as much as I did. I liked the art and color palates, the pacing was good, and although this is not a new story to tell, it was still interesting. It gave a lot of depth to the characters in a short amount of time. The writers also included a soundtrack to go along with the story, which I thought was a cool idea.

I don't think this is quite horror, but there is violence, so just keep that in mind if that bothers you.

Was this review helpful?

If you have ever spent time deep in a fandom the main characters in Parasocial will ring true on some level. This is a story of a stalker superfan who goes to the extreme to get what she wants and the actor whose lives behind a facade. The art by Erica Henderson is unique and enhances the story. If you have read/seen/heard of Misery the story won't seem wholly original but there is enough of the modern internet culture to make it fresh.

Was this review helpful?

'Parasocial' is a modern take on the nuances of fan culture and the troubles that arise when lines become blurred between fiction and reality. A misery-esque story that follows a "fading-genre TV actor" and an obsessive, crazed fan from a convention.

-
I'd like to start by petitioning that the Spotify playlist QR code is moved to the FRONT of the book instead of the final page, because searching up those songs honestly broke the flow of the story for me.. But the song choices themselves were perfectly picked for each scene! They really emphasized the intensity of certain moments (like Will's capture and his fight with said crazed fan), and I think more comics should consider creating companion playlists for their stories.

The discussion of parasocial relationships between celebrities and fans feels especially prevalent in our current times, and I honestly did not find any part of the comic particularly surprising. Sadly, we live in a world where something so misery-esque could easily happen to any celebrity at any time and that's putting it mildly.. The boundaries between fans and the idols they worship have become so blurred that many people find it difficult to separate that which is fiction from reality.

I found both Alex and Erica's explanations/essays at the end of the comic to be particularly interesting to read, and I can definitely say that they succeeded in portraying the darker side of parasocial relationships. The illustrations and the change in art-styles really helped to change the perspective, and I loved that they used such an expressive colour palette~

Also the main lead's name of Luke Indiana as a response to the recent controversy surrounding Marvel's editor-in-chief was genius! It definitely gave me a good chuckle when I read their explanation


— Thank you Netgalley and Image Comics for sending an eARC for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

❝[...]Parasocial is this generation's misery❞

Tense, unsettling, sorrowful and the author included an inscription at the end warning readers to seek therapy if they relate to it. Indeed I feel as if I need a good detox after this graphic novel. Parasocial explored the human psyche from the inside to out under the scope of a troubled celebrity vs. an obsessive fan. I never read "Misery" by Stephen King but this already was a good thriller-esque graphic novel. The art was well executed and the plot was well played- with layers of horrors of each characters peeled back, it is revealed so much. I highly recommend if you want a quick but heavy read.

Special thanks to Image Comics and Netgalley for a copy of an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I received a free ARC, and this review is voluntary.

Somebody call Kathy Bates and Lizzy Caplan, because Annie Wilkes has some competition

As the synopsis indicates, we watch as our lead - a once famous actor in his own way, has faded from that particular limelight. Attending a convention to help stay relevant, he's met with a variety of fans, the likes of which range from unfavorable to his acting or show, and those that find appreciation in his work in a way he couldn't have imagined.

It's a book that touches on the real life consequences of obsession, and the fantasies an individual can have while under this direction. It also shows that the people we often admire, or think admire us, are not always who they say they are.

The writing was fantastic, and once the action got started, it didn't stop; needing to know what will happen next. The back cover was right-side up before I even knew it.

Was this review helpful?

What a wild ride. The main character feels like a mix of an exaggerated, yet totally real person. The subtext of celebrity fan relationships is such an interesting topic for me. While Lily seems a bit intense, there are people like that in our world. The way the art changes with the story adds an interesting layer to the narrative, and the interspersed songs add a layer to the story most graphic novels rarely utilize. Overall it was an enjoyable read.

Was this review helpful?

This story reminds me of Stephen King's "Mercy". A bone-chilling, tense tale that will have the reader questioning everything by the end.

Was this review helpful?

I'm involved in the convention space. I've had a lot of cool interactions and experiences with celebrities, and I'm thankful for those. But it's also weird, right? At the end of the day, it's an odd exchange of money and time and smiles. Enter the masterpiece that is Parasocial.

Let's start with the fact that the main character's name is Luke Indiana. Luke. Indiana. With a name like Luke Indiana, and all the pop culture history behind such a name, readers are already geared to like his character from the very beginning. Luke is an actor reeling from the fact that his popular sci-fi television show was canceled due to the pandemic. That long-running show had all the hallmarks of a cult-classic show: homoerotic undertones that are never actually explored, different character "ships," and, most importantly, it was canceled too soon. 

Luke travels to a convention where he meets Lily, a fan who is more than a little obsessed with him, though she hides it well at first. What follows is a heavy-hitting horror that's not too far from Stephen King's Misery, though it's been modernized for the social-media age. Lily interacts with Luke at the convention and begins to appear suspicious and obsessive. Here are some of the things she says. 

"I just finished [my photo op] and he was fine?! A little tired maybe[.]"

"That's the same t-shirt you wore to RogueCon Kansas City in 2015."

"I really want to find a way to end up at the same bar as him tonight."

If you've been in the convention space, you've probably heard similar. I've honestly heard worse. While Parasocial is a commentary on behavior like this, it goes a bit further. Sarah Gailey called Parasocial “A horrifyingly compelling portrait of loneliness and obsession.” But Lily isn't the only one who's lonely. Luke is lonely too. Lily isn't the only scary one. Luke is too. If there's one thing I learned from Parasocial, it's that social media is unreliable. Narrators are unreliable. Beware whose story you trust. 

Art:

The art in Parasocial is bold and clear. At times the colors are blood red or monochromatic. There is great use of white space, which I loved. Parasocial is made for nerds who've spent their lives deep in fandoms. Group chats, AO3, fandom Twitter, Cameo, Instagram, and convention halls all make appearances in the art. The art changes depending on the mood of Lily and Luke. Anime and CSI-like theming both appear in fun ways. While it's not quite a love letter to fandom, it is a love letter to shared experiences.

Final Thoughts: Parasocial is engrossing, thought-provoking, and still wickedly fun. As someone who often feels a bit powerful at conventions each year, Parasocial hit hard. If you find me at a convention in 2024, expect me to recommend this graphic novel.

Rating: 5/5 stars. If not for the twist ending, this would have been a 4/5 star book. If you attend conventions, are involved in a fandom, or if you just like the idea of a modernized version of Misery, Parasocial is for you.

The review will go live on Back Shelf Books on December 21, 2023, at the below link.

Was this review helpful?

This was a misery-like take on a dried up celebrity and a crazy stan. It was interesting and gripping but there were no surprises. I think it needed to be drawn out - it would have allowed it to be more atmospheric. Overall good read.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for an ARC of this title

OMG. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but boy was I happy I did. Misery meets the true horror of fandom.

Was this review helpful?

A Misery for the modern age. This graphic novel succinctly and grippingly tells a story of a fandom favorite actor and the obsessed fan who stalks him. Luke Indiana may be a con circuit favorite, but his real life is falling apart. Stressed by his private life woes and weary from the day’s fan interactions he finds himself at the mercy of strangers on the road.
Except there isn’t much mercy to be had.
Luke finds himself in a fan interaction turned sinister and he only has his wits and luck to get himself out of this. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s Misery but with the current day fandom realities woven in. Kept my interest. Quick read. Luke was surprisingly endearing and Lily’s rage, despair and isolation were palpable. A quick and entertaining read.

My thanks to NetGalley for this book. This is my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

If someone said this wasn’t misery I wouldn’t buy it at all. It was basically very very very similar. Still it was good. Thanks for the arc

Was this review helpful?

Parasocial was absolutely amazing, a snapshot into post COVID conventions and dialling the parasocial relationships between fans & celebrities to the absolute max. Super unhinged & brilliant.

The art style + use of phone conversations, social media even AO3 (that ebony darkness username 😂) was the icing on the cake of a fantastic graphic novel.

Thanks to Netgalley & Image Comics for the arc!

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: