R-Rated Reads – Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose


R-Rated Reads features the best in Comics and Graphic Novels that you’d normally hide underneath your mattress.  Now, what the F%*# are you waiting for!?  READ the G@&-D*%$ thing!

Today’s R-Rated read:

Tarot – Witch of the Black Rose

Written and drawn by Jim Balent; colors and letters by Holly G!



Far be it from me to quote Rachael Ray, but... ummm... yummo?

Tarot is brought to us by Broadsword Comics, an independent publisher headed up by the lovely couple of Jim Balent and Holly G!  If you’ve never read a Broadsword book, but these names ring a bell, don’t fret.  The former’s name may seem familiar if you were a boy going through puberty in the nineties.  You almost certainly… drooled… over Jim’s rendering of Catwoman during his time on her solo title.  The latter may sound familiar if you’re a fan of Audrey Hepburn, or if you checked out our most recent Fangirl of the Month and caught the teaser for Holly’s appearance next month.

However, if you’ve never read any of Broadsword’s books, you’re missing out on a truly unique experience in Tarot.  Sure, there’s the voluptuous vixens and ever-more-increasingly-risque situations (seriously, this book’s not for kids) but there’s more than that.  Tarot is a book deeply rooted in the spiritual, with multiple mystical themes running throughout.

Tarot’s love interest, Jon, is the caretaker of a cemetery.  And ever since his last girlfriend, Brandi, died in a car crash, he sees dead people.  Including her.  So Jon the Skeleton Man and his ex, Crypt Chick – along with Tarot’s buxom sister Raven Hex; Tarot’s werecat ex-girlfriend-but-current-lover Boo; and Boo Cat’s current girlfriend, vampire cheerleader, Licorice Dust – round out the cast of characters.  And in the case of the girls, I do mean round.  These ladies are curvaceous, if you hadn’t noticed.

So, you’ve got werewolves and werecats and vampires and ghosts and Witches and dragons and fairies all wrapped up in lasciviously libidinous escapades, the results of which usually have at least one of the main characters in some state of undress before each issue’s end.  This ties into the book’s focus on removing the taboo we all place on our own sexuality.  To that end, the healing power of love often comes into play throughout the series, perhaps never more prevalent than in issue #34 where Boo Cat attends to a wounded Tarot wearing numerous makeshift nurses’ costumes.  I’d put up a panel or two, but the best ones aren’t entirely appropriate.


Current FGotM Spazzy above; future FGotM Foxy below. Good times!

Beyond the sword and sorcery aspect of Tarot and crew’s war on the dastardly denizens of the fantasy realm, each issue features a healthy helping of real world Witchcraft.  Phantasmagorical friends and fans are featured in pulchritudinous pictorials alongside practical spells taught in tantalizing tutorials.  Aside from the Witches introduced in photo form through the series’ ancillary pages, numerous fans have found their own little slice of four-color immortality, including two of PoP!’s favorite ladies, current FGotM Spazzy, and future Fangirl for the month of August, Foxy!  That issue also featured real life Witch Fiona Horne.  Even more recently, last month’s issue #55 featured the lovely Tonya Kay.


Fiona above; Tonya below

Still not sold?  A rigid respect for the sexual appetite isn’t the only doctrine taught through the pages of Tarot.  Indeed, the good folks at Broadsword have more to teach than your average after school special.  The underlying theme of understanding towards many various different ways of life is a strong one, and it’s intertwined with the promotion of healthy body imagery (nearly every body type is represented and embraced) and a strong relationship with the natural world.  And it’s all wrapped up in such a pretty little package.  Okay, maybe little’s the wrong choice of words…

It’s easy to dismiss Tarot as tee-and-ay, but the fact is, the book’s beauty is much more than skin deep.  Action, adventure, and a message of unity are lying beneath Tarot’s loosely-tied top and probably-already-falling-off bottoms, making it easy to see how it walked away with three of the twenty-five awards at Project Fanboy this past March – Best Title, Best Indy Title, and Best Indy Villain – Raven Hex.  So whether you’re looking for an interesting tale of titillating terror, or just tits and tails, there’s something here for you.

4 out of 5 adorable flying cats.  Pooka rocks!

PS – We usually love to send you a link or two to Amazon.com to check out the titles we feature, but… good news!  All the Tarot merch you could ever hope to buy is available straight from the fine folks at Broadsword!  You know the drill… clicky!


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Who ARE these people!?

Jason Kerouac is a co-founder of Panelsonpages.com. He spends roughly half of his waking life in servitude to the Giraffe. Raised in a town in New Hampshire you've never heard of, he now lives in Indianapolis, IN and is pretty sure that's a step in the right direction.

Comments (28)

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  1. J.R. LeMar says:

    Good article. I’ve been buying this series for years. I call it my favorite guilty pleasure. I mean, it’s definitely not a book that I’d want to be seen reading during lunchtime or my break @ work, since I don’t think most of my female coworkers would be able to get past the artwork. But it’s an entertaining book, and and the abundant amounts of wonderfully-illustrated female nudity is only part of it’s appeal (admittedly, it’s a LARGE part of it’s appeal), but it also has interesting characters and stories.

    I’m really impressed that they’ve managed to stick with it for so long. After coming right after the 90’s boom, it’s still going strong almost 10 years later. For a creator-owned independent book, that’s astounding. Good for them.

    • JasonKerouac says:

      Couldn’t have but it better myself JR. The book’s fantastic stories are only accented by its distinct look!

  2. Esbat says:

    Kerouac, I love you, but not as much as I love Jim and Holly.

  3. Foxy says:

    Nice write-up Kerouac! 🙂

    And I’m Miss August? Wow, thanks!

  4. Spazzy says:

    Very nice!!! Keep up the great work guys!

  5. Holly G! says:

    Thanks Guys!
    Funny JR that’s what people said about me in high school..though I think most only commented on the ‘large part’ : P Heehee!
    Jason you Rule…thank you for your insight and support!
    Hope to see you doing reporting at San Diego Comicon!
    Much Magick & Losta Love!

  6. JasonKerouac says:

    Awww! Holly G! everybody!

    Thanks for YOUR support Holly! We won’t be making it out to San Diego, but we’ll definitely be staking our claim on the wonderful world of WWC. I’ve ever even BEEN to the left coast yet!

  7. Dave in WI says:

    Been a follower since the first issue and enjoy a feeling of pride for Broadsword when others post reviews, comments and come away pleasantly surprised. I’ve always bought both covers, not just because I enjoy the art, inks or stories, but because I want to do my small part to help support and keep BS going. The energy, message and positive attitude that Jim and Holly have needs to be shared.

    Even better is how much they care about the fans and their work, and you can see that in their videos, pictures, and emails they send out to members (their email link brought me here and looks like i’m bookmarking this website).

    Only bad thing I can say about BS is that I wish they could do more titles. 😉

    Keep up the great work!

  8. JasonKerouac says:

    Welcome Dave in WI! Glad to have you on board! I hope you’ll enjoy our bizarre mix of PoP! culture, retro crap, and off beat humor. And if not… we’re deeply sorry.

    Care for a cookie?

  9. Leia says:

    The only thing wrong with Tarot is the looks I get while buying it. I don’t think that most men understand why a girl would read books like these. That’s because, duh! they’ve never read them! As a woman and a witch these are so touching and wonderful.
    Did I mention the art work is amazing, not just the cover art either, nothing will through me in to a princess fit quicker than really cool cover art and then shit panel after shit panel.
    I’ve been reading these books for years now and hope to read for years more!
    Much love Leia!

  10. Holly G! says:

    I wanna a cookie

  11. Holly G! says:

    and thank you Princess Leia ; )

  12. Spazzy says:

    Cookies for everyone?!?!?

    • JasonKerouac says:

      Only current, former, and future FGotM’s! That’s right ladies… want a cookie? Become a fangirl!

  13. TENIME_art says:

    I want a cookie. Can I be a FGotM?

  14. TENIME_art says:

    I could do it. ~_^

  15. Esbat says:

    Okay I got all my shots now!

  16. the Voice of Reason says:

    This series is garbage. The characters look like crap any 15 year old could come up with and the “art” is horrendous. Why anyone digs this shit is beyond me. This would have looked just as shitty back in the 90’s which is where it belongs.

  17. Foxy says:

    Great job expressing your opinion in a mature way.

  18. Holly G! says:

    what can you say Foxy…some just think that negativity is the only way they will be noticed- they never look for the good around them because there is so much bad is in them…let us bake a special cookie in their honor and hope one day soon….the happy bunny fairie will find them!
    If not Hex you bugger-head
    ; )

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