I have read three of Benji Nate’s work and have three to go (one is due in May 2023, so just two current). And each one is more bizarre and kookier than the last. Yet, I keep reading. Maybe it is like a car wreck, you do not want to know, but you must know, too. You cannot look away. And Hell Phone Book One is no different.
However, this time it does flow a bit more logically and has a base to it that made this an easy enough read, and one you savor. It is a cute, creepy, and fast-paced story about being careful when you answer a stranger’s phone, as you and your best friend/next-door neighbor can be plunged into one Hell of a murder mystery. And while there are a few missing clues (who is John, who is the masked person, why did the woman that is a ghost vision do what she did, why did the VHS tape burn up), you understand the plot and you are able to figure out who is who and what is what. Just not what is going on.
Which is Sissy and Lorna find an old flip phone and well, get tossed into a really messy murder mystery with a possible occult twist. The people of the story are cartoon meet manga meet Nates personal style. The colors are simple enough, but bold and details are what is needed to set the mood and setting. The clever artwork by Nate shows these characters as everyday people. They like parties, dressing up, eating pizza, drinking, and digging up graves of missing girls who are not actually buried in them.
I give this graphic novel a 3.5 (but round up to four) as it has potential, but I’m waiting for the “more” to come. I would have preferred having the full story to read all at once, but this is a good start and now my warped self who loves an old-fashioned adult R. L. Stine or Christopher Pike is happy.