Let’s Play #1
Hi, my name is Sarah and I am completely and 100% obsessed with Let’s Play.
From the publisher marketing:
She’s young, single and about to achieve her dream of creating incredible video games. But then life throws her a one-two punch: a popular streamer gives her first game a scathing review.
Even worse, she finds out that same troublesome critic is now her new neighbor! A funny, sexy, and all-too-real story about gaming, memes, and social anxiety.
As I mentioned in my review of Lore Olympus last week, I’ve gone down the Webtoon rabbit hole and have found myself completely wrapped up in Let’s Play. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve thought about it more than I would probably normally admit. But it came into my life at just the right time. Two weeks ago, I got my quarterly email from my local comic book shop telling me I had a stack of comics to pick up. But when I got there, there was only 1. All of the rest of the series on my pull list are either on hiatus or have finished up. I went from picking up comics for four to six series every few months to only having one, and that one is also on hiatus until next year. What was a girl to do?
So I asked the nice young kid (me, a thirtysomething year old now calls anyone who looks 18 a kid, what has happened to me?) working that day if he could give me any recommendations like the owner has in the past – he had my pull list and I told him what I was in the mood for, but poking around the shelves and researching, we both failed to find what I was in the mood for – something adorably drawn and slice-of-life-y. I love my comics with girl power and adorable drawings these days (I do still love a good fantasy or sci-fi epic comic but wasn’t in the mood for those). I typically read comics from Image, Boom! and IDW, but they didn’t have anything that fit what I was looking for. Nothing.
Enter Let’s Play. I read all 140+ episodes in two days. And then lamented that I couldn’t recommend it as a book at the store. But wait. Low and behold, the graphic novel became available on October 26, 2021! And is distributed by a major publisher! And… is backordered until January. But, it means that I can, dear reader, tell you how much I love it and recommend it as a physical book! (And if you don’t want to wait that long, join me in the Webtoon rabbit hole, it’s fun!) But for those who want to wait, I’ll try to keep this review to just the first volume and avoid spoilers.
Let’s Play follows Sam, a young, fresh out of college, IT pro working for her father’s software company and designing indie games on the side. Her first game is called Ruminate and is a puzzle based open world computer game, one that I would totally want to play if it was real. Sam struggled with her health growing up (huge props to Leeanne for drawing and including Sam’s inhaler in the comic – as an asthmatic I feel seen!) and computer games were her safe place and she spent a lot of time watching the game reviews of Marshall Law on ViewTube. But then he posts a review about how he didn’t like Ruminate and immediately after moves in right next door to Sam – and that is the start of the plot.
In additional to Marshall, our cast of characters is rounded out by Sam’s real life and gaming friends, Abe, Angela, Edgar, Dallas, Vikki and Olivia, who are collectively some of my favorite characters that I have ever read – they’re great and supportive friends to each other and they share so much with each other that you really get to know them all. At work, we have Charles, Sam’s boss, Lucy, the nosy but delightful admin assistant, and Umed, one of her coworkers and friends, along with her father, Mr. Young, who is a whole lot of character to unpack in his own right. We also meet Marshall’s girlfriend, beauty ViewTuber Monica, who couldn’t be more of a feminist badass if she tried, and Sam’s college friends who run a coffee shop together, Dee and Link. And last but not least, Bowser, the worlds must adorably drawn Terrier Corgi mix who just kills it in his panels.
Needless to say, this is a very character driven story, but Leeanne has done such a magnificent job of bringing all of her characters to life – they are diverse and well rounded and the series does, for being classified as a romance*, pass the Bechdel test many times over. It turns out, it was exactly was I was looking for and precisely what I needed to help me escape into someone else’s world for the time being. I hope that, as these series become more popular, that some of the more established comic publishers will take notice and think about the authors and artists they want to invest in.
*Romance wise, the first two volumes are very light on any sort of physical romance, we mostly are treated to a great deal of blushing and adorableness but the series does, obviously, progress in this regard.
Rating: 10 out of 10