Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose : The Gourd Golem

I’ve said before that this series deserves more attention from mainstream comic news sites and channels. I understand that the adult subject matter somewhat limits its appeal, but nevertheless, this is a longtime ongoing indie comic from a top-tier talent. Jim Balent could have stuck to working for DC and Marvel, where he broke out as a superstar artist in the 90s, but decided to branch out and do his own thing. And I bring this up because this issue is billed as the 23rd Anniversary Issue.

That’s right, the first issue of this series was published in March 2000. Jim Balent writes, draws, and colors the series, while his wife Holly Golightly also colors, letters, and edits it. And they’ve now kept this series going for 23 years, with this latest issue, which is #138. And here’s another impressive fact, that averages out to one issue every two months! So that’s a bimonthly series for 23 years. With all the ups and downs the comic-book industry has endured during that time I don’t see how you can’t be impressed. So many other indie publishers, many with much more resources, have debuted and ended in these two decades, yet Jim and Holly have soldiered on. It may be because it’s just a two-person operation, and outside of a couple minor side-projects they’ve remained focused on this one ongoing series, as opposed to trying to expand to a “Broadsword Universe” with a bunch of spinoff titles. In any case, again, all respect is due.

That being said, for such a significant milestone, you’d think Balent would want to make this issue a bit more special. Like having some major event happen in the life of Tarot and her supporting cast. Perhaps a new direction for the series, something that could make this an ideal jumping-on-point for any new readers, or at least utilizing more of the main characters to introduce them. Instead, this is a good but average issue, that doesn’t even feature major characters like Jon or Raven, and seems solely to appeal to regular readers, such as myself.

The story is narrated by Boo Cat, via her “sexy diary”, who went out one night in her werecat form, romping through the fairy real just for fun. She encounters a purple-skinned (and scantily-clad) female elf who created a pumpkin-headed scarecrow for her garden and then used a chaos magick spell to bring it to life. Unfortunately, due to her inexperience with magick, something went wrong so instead of obeying her commands, the scarecrow attacks and ties the elf to a wooden cross. Boo Cat jumps into the scene and tries to rescue the elf, but instead gets caught and tied up to a cross too. And that’s when Tarot materializes, apparently having sensed the evil magick in the area, and she prepares to rescue the two women, but the scarecrow is stronger than she expected and resistant to many of her magical attacks. So, as usual, Tarot will have to use her brains to figure out a way to defeat the monster.

For a regular issue, it’s fine. Balent’s art is great, it’s a fun little action-packed story.  I’m only judging it a bit harder due to the significance of the date, but certainly, if you are a regular reader of this title I think you will be more than satisfied.

The book also contains two pages of pictures of Jim and Holly’s trip to the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser event at Disneyworld, and an image of the newest “Broadsword Girl”, Martina Cannon-Ball.

Chacebook rating: FOUR STARS


Delightful Delilah Lilac, as Boo Cat, in a lovely pumpkin patch is the Limited edition Tarot#138 Cosplayer Photocover!

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