Pink Lemonade #1 is a love story between a girl and a bunch of old cartoons on VHS. Which is about as pure a love as you're going to get.

Review: PINK LEMONADE #1 — For the Love of Cartoons and Sugar

Pink Lemonade’s been on quite the journey over the past few years. Starting from a daily series of strips centered around an enthusiastic biker, it soon became clear that the character’s story had begun to outgrow the format. So, here we are with Pink Lemonade #1 from creator Nick Cagnetti and letterer François Vigneault, an issue that begins with an explosive, psychedelic action sequence the old format could only dream of. Pink Lemonade’s moved to bigger pages, and there’s no promise even that can contain her.

Hopeful drifter Pink Lemonade has been confused a lot, of late. For one thing, “Pink Lemonade” isn’t her real name, just a title given to her by a child running a lemonade stand. Her entire past is a blur. The only things she knows for sure are that she has a lust for adventure, a motorbike, and a taste for sweet drinks. Following a psychedelic dream sequence, she awakes on a park bench, greeted by the young girl that named her. Introducing herself as Pammy, the child has brought her mom to see the “cool motorcycle chick” that visited her lemonade stand. The mom, Linda, invites Pink Lemonade back to their house for a mac-n-cheese dinner. Linda makes her living drawing comics, and expresses a deep love for retro superhero OJ-Bot. Inspired by the hero’s example, Pink Lemonade decides later in the day to burst onto a movie set to save a child’s balloon. But despite her good intentions, Pink Lemonade’s impulsiveness might just land her in hot water.

She may have a mysterious past, scar, and a huge helmet that hides her face, but Pink Lemonade is a character who’s about as earnest as it gets. Mac-n-cheese is the best meal she’s ever had. Cartoons are wonderful. And she’ll greet an artist with “I like to color things with crayons!” It might make her stick out in the world at large, but for talking about cartoons? She’s got the right attitude. In fact, it’s her conversations with Linda over OJ-Bot that make up the core of the issue. Pink Lemonade is a walking, talking retro-comics throwback who can’t help gushing over why people liked those comics in the first place. Which means love for whimsy, puns, and a can-do-attitude.

Though, the comics couldn’t stay pure forever. Linda briefly goes into OJ-Bot’s descent into grim n’ gritty posturing, the character’s new direction shown through pastiches of usual suspects Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns. It’s no coincidence, then, that the first person to challenge Pink Lemonade’s attitude is a man drawn like he stepped out of a 90’s comic. There’s also a strange grim reaper wearing her face. following her; how real the figure is doesn’t matter at this point. We just need to know Pink Lemonade is running from something. So it comes down to whether her chipper, childlike attitude can survive run-ins with angrier outlooks, harsh reality, and her own past. That, and Hollywood. Hopefully some whimsy can make it out intact.

Nick Cagnetti’s art shows fondness for the American comics of yesteryear, clear meat-and-potatoes storytelling embellished with thick outlines, colorful costumes, and a touch of psychedelia. Pink Lemonade’s enthusiasm comes across through the exaggerated superhero storytelling used in scenes as mundane as eating mac-n-cheese. A yellow circle frames her, scarf blowing in the wind, as she browses a longbox. A handshake emphasized with a splash of bright orange. Not to mention the several changes in style Cagnetti uses to get across different comic eras. Stuntman Rick Radical is given harsh shading and bulging neck veins to evoke the 90’s, while OJ-Bot is a simple design straight out of a kid’s cartoon, a cylinder with limbs and friendly eyes.

The coloring is bright and flat, favoring solid blocks of color textured with Ben-Day dots. Dramatic moments turn the background bright red, or blue, and Pink Lemonade’s signature yellow and pink help her stick out in any given scene. Though her colors are also used in more subtle ways, like how a sunset where she faces the mysterious reaper turns the sky pink and orange.

Vigneault’s lettering is thick, blocky and all-caps, with occasional hand-drawn sound-effects and exclamations. A kid shouting “My balloon!” is drawn in red bubble letters, which wobble and spill into one another. Even the simple “Glug glug” of drinking pink lemonade is given poppy hand-lettering, colored a fitting bright pink.


Pink Lemonade #1 is about the simple joys of old-fashioned hero stories, starring someone who hopes to follow in their footsteps. Though reality threatens to creep in around the edges. The book is out now from Oni Press, so give it a try if you want something sweet.

Hank Essman
Hank Essman
Hailing from Southwest Missouri, Hank has co-hosted a local radio show on comics, written a thesis on graphic literature, penned a few articles on comic books, attended several comic conventions, and played a little tennis.
Pink Lemonade #1 is a love story between a girl and a bunch of old cartoons on VHS. Which is about as pure a love as you're going to get.Review: PINK LEMONADE #1 — For the Love of Cartoons and Sugar