Saw this story at Robot 6. Well, actually I saw the cover in my news feed and it did the trick. Because that cover just looks great.
Faith Erin Hicks has a new book coming out from First Second in February 2012, but she’s going to be putting the whole 211 page graphic novel online. Five updates a week right until the publication date. Her rationalisation for giving it away before selling it in print comes from this great quote in the Robot 6 story:
“I didn’t have a comic book store to go to, nor did I have friends who were into comics. I had no connection to the comic book industry. But I had a computer, and I could access the internet, and there were comics on the internet. These comics were made by a diverse group of cartoonists, and (at the time) most were done ‘for fun.’ Reading online comics gave me new perspective on comics, and showed me what was possible for the medium, beyond the superhero genre. Later, as my tastes evolved and I gained disposable income, I became a comic consumer. I do not think I would be the hearty purchaser of comics if it wasn’t for the online comics I read while in school.”
Hicks describes Friends With Boys thus:
“Friends With Boys is about Maggie McKay, a teenager entering her first year in public high school. Previously Maggie had been home-schooled, taught by her mom and her only classmates her three (very loud, probably very manly) brothers. Now she’s following her brothers to high school, where she’ll have to deal with something pretty terrifying to a home-schooled kid: her peers. Also Maggie’s stalked by a local ghost, and having a ghost follow you to school on your very first day … very not cool.”
I’ve just sat here and read the first 34 pages. It is very, very good indeed. The first few pages sets it all up so wonderfully well, getting over Maggie’s terrible, yet understandable nerves about heading off to school for the first time. And once she’s there, the alienation, the sense of being utterly out of place is perfectly done, with minimal fuss, just great cartooning.
The only slight issue – the whole ghost thing? Not sure about that. But what I’ve read thus far tells me that I should wait until a full verdict, and trust Hicks to make it work as well as the family and school scenes.
It is slightly ironic though – you wait ages for a quality teen drama about alienation featuring a troublesome ghost friend and then two really great ones come along, from the same publisher, just a year apart. Hicks must have winced when she saw Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost.
However, based on what I’ve just read, Friends With Boys looks like it may be as brilliant as Brosgol’s book. It’s certainly off to a great start.
Here are the first four pages, but there’s 30+ pages up right now, with a commitment to serialise the whole graphic novel online before publication. Click here for the first page, and here for the latest.