Sword in the brownstone • Brooklyn Paper

Sword in the brownstone

An artist has turned the neighborhoods of Park Slope and Bay Ridge into characters in a new graphic novel.

Teenager Aliera Carstairs is a typical Brooklynite trying to balance her life between honing her foiling skills at her school’s fencing team for nationals and carrying the burden of her new-found role as the sword-wielding defender of the Fairies in artist Mike Cavallaro and author Jane Yolen’s new kid-friendly “Curses! Foiled again.”

Along the way, readers get a tour of Brooklyn.

Aliera’s apartment is modeled after the brownstone where Cavallaro lives. Her high school is based on an old school building on Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Army Plaza — it has since been converted into condos. Another home is modeled after some Bay Ridge neighborhoods, and there are plenty more glimpses of brownstones and bodegas out of the bus windows as Aliera rides to school.

“Brooklyn really had to look like Brooklyn,” Cavallaro said.

Cavallaro’s reality-based locales are the perfect counterbalance to the fairy tale facets — even if it meant a lot more work. Drawing all those winged, pointy-eared, and tentacled creatures was the easy part, said the artist.

“[It’s] harder to draw the real stuff,” Cavallaro said. “The fantasy characters just have to look cool and be fun to draw. Most of them are just background characters, so no one can tell me that I drew that tentacle wrong, it’s whatever I want it to be — but you know, a car is a car, and we all know when it doesn’t look right.”

Of course, it’s reality that Aliera, the defender of the Seelie Court, can’t get away from. Not only does she have to save the fairy realm, she needs to make it home in time to finish her chemistry homework, somehow fit in among all the jocks, jockettes, goths, nerds, and preps she passes in the hallways, and make nationals.

Keep hustling, Aliera.

“Curses! Foiled Again” is available at Bergen Street Comics [470 Bergen St. between Flatbush and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230–5600].

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