D00R: Toilet Genie #1
Story and Art by Cari Corene
Who was it that ultimately decided genies should live in lamps? Perhaps they would be happy to find accommodations elsewhere, like a nice teapot or perhaps a liquor decanter.
And who made it a rule that they should live in liquid dispensers in the first place? Perhaps they would be just as happy living in the back of a Volkswagen or under a bridge, or in the back of a decrepit toilet in a falling down building on the bad side of town. That is, in fact, where the heroine of “Toilet Genie” finds her magical new friend, and makes a wish that she hopes will lead her to ultimate happiness.
It all starts with a goofy looking little dog named Skittlez who gets tossed out by her rather unfriendly owner. She goes to find shelter in a rundown bathroom and ends up waking a genie. The genie of the toilet, to be exact (somehow it just doesn’t sound as grand as the genie of the lamp, does it?) He offers her three wishes, and after she squanders the first two on a butt scratch and a hug, names her ultimate wish. She wants her unfriendly owner to love her again. To make that possible, the genie turns her into a human girl. He tells her she doesn’t know what she has wished for, but Skittlez is certain her dreams are going to now come true. In case they don’t, the genie gives her the option to wish herself back to him.
Cari Corene, who I discovered while wandering the aisles at Sakura-con this year, self-publishes “Toilet Genie”. The artwork was the first thing to catch my attention. On the cover of the first issue a large-eyed waif sits amidst a red and black landscape that speaks of nothing good. The colors are dark and yet washed out in a visually arresting watercolor style. While the artwork inside the book is riddled with broad lines and sharper color with a comic-book feel, the large eyes and delicate character designs continue. It looks like Corene was influenced heavily by manga and anime, as the large eyes, feminine looking males, and hyper-distorted comic panels can attest too. She carries it off well, especially when integrating her own flourishes such as prominent noses and mouths.
While the basic story isn’t completely unique, I enjoyed the way the “hero meets genie and wishes for something they shouldn’t” premise was introduced. Skittlez is really cute and not your normal fairy tale heroine (her ‘prince’ seems like a butthead too and I can’t see many animated Disney movies being made about falling in love with him). And her genie isn’t like most genies readers will have seen before. Aside from the fact that he is chained to a broken down toilet of all things, he’s obviously got more going on in his snarky head than just thoughts about granting wishes. He’s tricky and he’s plotting something and he definitely knows more than what he is willing to share. Unfortunately for Skittlez she hasn’t been human long enough to see when someone is hiding things.
For an independently published book “Toilet Genie” is professional looking from cover to cover. It must have taken a lot of work for one creator to handle the story writing, artwork, and publishing tasks needed to release it, but Cari Corene seems to have handled the duties well. The dialogue may not be perfect all of the time, and there may be a few flaws in the drawings that pop up occasionally, but in all this book is pretty impressive.