Written by Johnnie Christmas
Art by Dante Luiz
Published by ComiXology Originals
Crema is a love story…about coffee…and it has ghosts.
Lots of ghosts.
And lots of coffee.
In fact, it’s lots of coffee that somehow has enabled our main character, Esme, to see ghosts ever since she was a kid. Why she was drinking coffee at such a young age, I don’t know. Most kids consider coffee, like beer, a grown-up drink, and are content with orange juice or Pepsi. But that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, she DOES drink a lot of coffee and she DOES see ghosts.
Her best friend for many years, Gerry, is the ghost of a former TV star.
As the story begins, Esme works as a barista at a small coffee shop in town that’s in the process of changing ownership. That’s what brings Yara to town. Yara is a young model, originally from Brazil, who throws a party to celebrate the sale. Esme hadn’t planned on attending but through convoluted circumstances, she ends up there anyway and meets Yara.
The two have instant chemistry.
In connection with the sale of the shop, a new ghost is unearthed who wants Esme to take a love letter to his long lost—and long deceased—love in Brazil but Esme explains to him that she has to work at the coffee shop and can’t.
The next day, the coffee shop mysteriously burns down. Yara has to return to Brazil to tell her grandmother who owns the coffee farm so she invites Esme to go with her. Esme brings the letter, and inadvertently brings a lot of trouble along with her.
I don’t even drink coffee but all the coffee background was interesting. The various ghosts, some of whom are just there and have nothing to do with the plot, are interesting. But the best part of Crema is its love story. Yara and Esme make a cute couple. The artistic highlight of the book is a five-page section of the two of them making love—no exploitation, no fan service. The entire thing is sensual, realistic, and discreet, certainly no more explicit than PG-13.
The creators of Crema, Johnnie Christmas and Dante Luiz, apparently like it as well, as the book’s back matter analyzes the creation of that particular sequence from script to finished art.
The book’s art is a mixed bag overall, with some sections looking a bit rushed.
Overall, I like it quite a bit, though, with artist Luiz seemingly influenced by Frank Miller as far as his dark-haired female characters, all of whom confusingly look pretty much alike.
The plot is definitely original, with its coffee background an unusual one for comics. The main characters are likable, their quickly-growing romance is sweet and well-written, and I felt like I’d spent some time with some very cool people.
Oh, and Crema never once makes a big deal out of the same sex relationship between its heroines. It’s portrayed as a very natural thing. That’s the way it should always be. Love is love.