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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two Graphic Novels with Interesting Female Protagonists That Connect to the Punk Scene

Van Meter, Jen (2010) Hopeless Savages Greatest Hits: 2000-2010.  Portland:  Oni Press.

Opening Lines:  "My name is Skank Zero Hopeless-Savage.  I want to be a punk musician like my parents.  My friends call me Zero.  But they think I should go to film school  Learn a trade!  So I'm making this movie about us and everything in it really happened.  Really."

When Zero's parents get kidnapped in the middle of the night, she has to round up her siblings, her sister Arsenal, her brother Twitch, and her brother Rat.  This involves grabbing Rat from his corporate job and deprogramming him  The story is entertaining, the art and panel design is strong and the characters are interesting.  Zero, for example, invents her own interjections like "Grotty blisters!" and "You gumsnapping catblender!" (Incidentally, this allows the graphic novel to get across a believably punk milieu while keeping vulgar language to a minimum (though there is some).  What is interesting about the book, though, is that the punk family exhibits loyalty, acceptance,  concern, caring, and nurturing, while several families or groups representing conventional suburban sensibilities and values seem to be more driven by greed and bitterness toward others.  

This book probably has a fairly narrow audience, though, as the percentage of punk-loving teenagers is probably not as high as it once was.  But this might be a good graphic novel to catch the attention and humor of the student who listens to the "Never Mind the Bullocks" album on repeat, or who knows who the Pogues were, this might be the book to hook them.  As I mentioned before there is very occasional vulgar language and likewise very occasional sexual innuendo. 

The prevalent theme here is one of the importance of family, though the reader will have to look for it. 

Watson, Andi; Howard, Josh (2007)  Clubbing.  New York:  Minx

Opening lines:  "The girl there, gabbing on the Razr, the one who looks like a silent movie star wearing dissolution lip gloss?  That's me.  Cute, aren't I?  People think so until I open my mouth.  My mum's always saying I'm so sharp I'll cut myself.  Anyway, that's me in happier times.  Before I was exiled."

The title is a pun.  Charlotte Brock gets caught with a fake ID she made so she could go  to a London club, the police drive her home, and the next thing she knows, her parents have packed her off to her Grandma Aggie and Granddad Archie's house in rural Meadowdale.  It turns out her grandparents own a gold course, which means the only clubbing she will be doing will be with golf clubs.  Before long, Charlotte has met a local boy, found some friends, and stumbled into a mystery that may involve a murder. 

The only thing in this book that might be challenged is the clothing Chrolotte wears at first.  She looks like one of those Bratz dolls (see above).  Before long, though, the rain and the cold of the English countryside work wonders and she is wearing pants, hoodies, and raincoats. 

There is no particular thematic development here, but it is an enjoyable mystery to read.  Charlotte is a spunky protagonist and the reader sympathizes with her form early on.  Given the still small number of graphic novels with female protagonists, this one might be worth looking at. 

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