Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Pink Lemonade’ #1, out this October from It’s Alive!

'Pink Lemonade' #1: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to ‘Pink Lemonade’ #1. Art: Nick Cagnetti/It’s Alive!

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘PINK LEMONADE’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

by Clyde Hall. “A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” – Steven Pressfield

Keeping it pure. It’s a concept we forget or abandon after being avid comic readers for a while. Luckily, not all of us fall away from the purer faith. Nick Cagnetti hasn’t, and he knows how to jump start our tiny, jaded hearts. We recognize what we’ve lost, inspired by his vibrant parade of characters in the upcoming Pink Lemonade #1 from It’s Alive! Press. 

From page one the reader is immersed in a strange dream of flying spacemen sporting steel-toed cowboy boots, a jet-packed dog, an industrial-sized robotic villain, and a motorcycling young heroine with bizarre helmet and riding attire. She’s the dreamer, and when she wakes, the setting is less surreal. Its mundanity could match our own world. 

She still has the unusual outfit, and her motorbike remains the odd conveyance of her slumber. Her park bench nap’s interrupted by a mother and a girl she’s encountered previously at a roadside lemonade stand. Pammy makes introductions that include the reader and her Mom, Linda to the dreamer called Pink Lemonade, dubbed so by Pammy because of her accoutrement color scheme. P.L. has a raging case of amnesia, her real name, previous life, and home forgotten.

Mom invites P.L. for dinner, and it becomes a session of watching old cartoons on VHS. They inspire P.L. with their simplistic morality. Defend the weak. Do good. Help others, even if it leads you where you least expected.

Such dangerous ideas loose in our world, upheld by a daring young woman in colorful costume and riding a custom bike, naturally lead to difficulties. The second half of the book presents those conflicts, raises additional questions, and ends with an interesting proposition for our innocent heroine. 

On the surface, this may seem like cool stuff for younger readers. I think kids will appreciate Pink Lemonade on several levels, and I look forward to seeing her cosplayed. But Cagnetti, the writer/artist/colorist/letterer/genius/madman behind Pink Lemonade has some things to tell us grownups, too. I think he would agree with Mr. Pressfield: We’re afflicted by our macro-minds and our stunted empathy, and shame on us.

Cagnetti himself is a dynamic, soft-spoken talent not easily contained. He’s an actor, production designer, writer, and an independent graphics, storyboard, and poster artist. In Pink Lemonade, he conducts all those gifts into an engaging tale of an egoless, uncorrupted traveler. Initial impressions of Pink Lemonade may favor kinship to Forrest Gump. But look deeper. You may find her more like Jules after Pulp Fiction. She walks (rides) the earth, travelling from place to place, meeting people, having adventures. P.L. lives what the former hitman yearns for following his period of complacency. Two characters couldn’t be more different; the purity P.L. adores, Jules abandoned long ago and eventually seeks to reclaim. 

In the OJ-Bot cartoon session with Linda and Pammy, Cagnetti clotheslines us. Pink Lemonade finds inspiration in the altruistic adventures, just like we did when watching such fare as kids. But Cagnetti challenges us, the matured versions of those rugrats who now scoff at such corny stuff. We adult our way through the world, denying their wisdom while often, in our best moments, still applying them. Pink is less hypocritical. She believes the world is a good place, better still if people adhere to their principles. 

Cagnetti also pokes our tendency to dilute purity with edgy, ill-fitted reboots. One sure-to-return enemy, the mulleted Ron Radical, is a ridiculous embodiment of embracing the grim to the exclusion of all else. For a comic so refreshingly light and airy, dark clouds do menace. Recurring nightmares, a mysterious scar, and a questionable benefactor are all challenges Pink must address. Cagnetti doesn’t shy from them, but they aren’t beyond this heroine’s ability to overcome. 

Favorite moments include a perfect mimic of past comic era food ads aimed at the youth market, and a tour of Linda’s OJ-Bot fan room. In the latter, we’re treated to a splash-worthy collection of candy pails, advertising signs, display stands, shower curtains, jack-in-the-box toys, and boxed Halloween costumes all in the merchandised image of OJ-Bot. Cagnetti’s ability to detail this kind of panel is a gift. 

The promise of his first issue is as expansive as its charm. It’s refreshingly unique. The opening pages allude to more adventures that came before and inspired me to search. Some thirty Pink Lemonade comic strips predate this issue and you can find them online, with effort. Hungry to know more, this fifty-something comic fan made the effort to chase down all of them. That’s the degree of Pink Lemonade’s appeal. 

It’s Alive! / $3.99

Written by Nick Cagnetti. 

Illustrated by Nick Cagnetti.

 9 out of 10

‘Pink Lemonade’ #1 is aimed for an October release. You can contribute to its Indiegogo campaign now.

Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Pink Lemonade’ #1, courtesy of It’s Alive! Press!

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