Webcomic Weekly – where the plan is to do exactly that, giving you a look at another incredible webcomic every week.
This week, to kick off the feature, it’s time for one of my favourites, Jade Sarson‘s Cafe Suada…a tale of love and tea…
Cafe Suada celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 2020, something of a milestone in webcomics. Each storyline comes as a ‘Cup’ and runs anything from 30-something to 60-something pages long.
Now, I’ve been with it since pretty early on, catching up in chunks every so often, and I can honestly tell you that it’s one of the best, a glorious rom-com in comics form, a wonderfully charming and warm comic, fun and enjoyable till the last drop.
At its heart Cafe Suada is a delightfully romantic comic hooked around a wacky sense of fun, one of those things that would have been hugely successful if comics wised up and realised just how powerful a good rom-com can be.
This is classic Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant playing opposite each other, this is Doris Day, this is James Stewart, this is everything that Hollywood managed to get so right, yet comics gets so wrong by ignoring the enduring power of how good a great romantic comedy can be.
Cafe Suada gets the entire vibe of the rom-com, gets everything so right, gets all the ridiculousness, all the silliness, all the sentimentality, and puts it down on the comics page. Gloriously.
So, Cafe Suada, a beautifully done rom-com, all set around the quaint little teahouse, Piyo Piyo, run by our heroine, Geraldine Grey. Her only desire is to spread her love of the wonders of tea.
And then a new coffee house opens up next door, the super trendy Dark Moon, serving what Geraldine calls the ‘filthy tasteless mud’.
And she really, really hates its owner, the tall, dark, and frankly annoyingly gorgeous Ewan.
And of course, because this is a rom-com, whilst the obvious attraction builds and builds, the two owners clash and fight, sparks flying with plots and ridiculous plans to destroy the others business.
Well, to be honest, it’s Geraldine who’s doing the most of the plotting and conspiring. Ewan seems to just be getting on with things. And oh boy, does Geraldine hate him for that.
Except… well, you can see where this is going, can’t you?
Like I said, it’s a classic rom-com.
But just because it’s a very obvious rom-com format in terms of the two leads doing the meet-cute, rivalry, miscommunication, conflict, more attraction, more rivalry things that make up your rom-com DNA, that’s absolutely not a problem here.
Sarson does it all so very well, makes they/them characters rich, funny, interesting, and quirky without ever making them annoying (well, unless they/them intends them to be annoying that is) and throws in lots of great little plot twists and turns to keep things going nicely.
Throw into the mix the wonderful Cream, who turns out to be the mega-rich owner of both Piyo-Piyo and Dark Moon, seemingly setting this whole thing up as some sort of big game…. why? And then there’s the Koala. Yes, the Koala. What about it? Yes, there’s plenty going on and it’s all so much fun, so across the 8 cups, expect to enjoy such delights as bookshop rescues, holidays, bubble tea competitors, surprises, mystery… and all the while, Cafe Suada keeps that simple will they, won’t they dynamic going so nicely.
Yes, through the eight cups (issues, volumes, whatever) that we have of Cafe Suada thus far, Sarson proves that they have a wonderful grasp of how to deliver wonderfully warm and enjoyable comics. It’s one of those comics that never fails to put a smile on my face and I imagine it’s going to do the same for you.
Sarson is also the creator of the Myriad Editions published For The Love Of God, Marie!.
That one is described beautifully as – ‘Armistead Maupin meets Ab Fab in this sparkling, sexy comedy of manners that celebrates the life and loves of Marie and a cast of LBGT characters.’