Propaganda’s Minx double – Confessions of a Blabbermouth and Good As Lily
Blabbermouth and Good As Lily are two more books from DC’s Minx imprint aimed at appealing to that most difficult of readerships; younger, hipper and essentially a lot more female than your more traditional comic reader. In short it’s attempting to appeal to someone who is absolutely not me. But it’s not stopped me really enjoying everything from Minx so far. And neither Blabbermouth nor Good As Lily are exceptions to this…..
One day I’m going to find a Minx book I hate. But it’s not this pair.
Blabbermouth is written by the father/daughter writing team of Mike and Louise Carey. Mike Carey is an established writer, with several comics and novels to his name but Louise was just 15 at the time she took this on. How much input she had in the writing isn’t certain but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and attribute some of the spikier and sharper youthful dialogue to her. Mike’s a big guy after all and can get by without the extra praise.
It’s a simple tale, practically a Disney movie when you lay the plot out; Single mom with feisty daughter meets man, feisty daughter not happy to find that man also has daughter of his own. A caper of some kind, resolution and two girls realise that they can be great friends. But there’s a lot more to Blabbermouth than this barebones plot. It’s nicely dialogued, full of spiky lines, packed with energy and knowledgably youthful. But most of all it’s full of the idea that this generation has a literate dimension far greater and more expansive than previous generations could have dreamed of. Smart kids, so Blabbermouth tells us, are writers and communicators. The range of writing opportunities, the potential for creativity in the young is greater than ever, all due to available technology.
Our heroine, Tasha, has a venomous blog, (the Blabbermouth of the title) and she’s not afraid to use it to rake over every aspect of her life, taking no prisoners as she writes. When her mother gets a new, obnoxious boyfriend it’s bad enough, but when his quiet, brooding daughter Chloe shows up, and is a published journalist with a local newspaper column and a habit for slagging off bloggers it seems that Tasha’s position as the literary queen of school is threatened.
(Revenge is a dish best served via a laptop and a scathing personal attack online. Art from Confessions of a Blabbermouth by Aaron Alexovich, published DC Comics/Minx.)
To top things off Mom has decided the whole “family” needs a getting to know you trip to the Grand Canyon. As so often happens, the girls end up finding common ground but this new closeness leads Tasha to start suspecting that Mom’s nasty boyfriend may be hiding secrets far more serious than his writing. At this point Mike & Louise could have turned this light, frothy book into something nasty and dark. But thankfully they decided that it’s not a place for nasty and dark and pulled a nice twist on the reader by going with something far more in keeping with the lighter touch of the story.
Blabbermouth is a fun, funky little book, packed full of lovely, naturalistic characters. The artwork is equally fun and fresh, nicely complimenting the fast paced fun story. Aaron Alexovich’s artwork is very reminiscent of early Sam Keith with the cartoony figures, minimalist backgrounds and extensive black space. But that’s no criticism, I loved early Sam Keith and I loved the eye candy here as well.
Next up, Good As Lily. It’s just as fun, just as lightweight and just as enjoyable as Blabbermouth. It’s central premise is that Lily, a young Korean girl, is visited by three past and future versions of herself, 6 year old, 29 year old and 70 year old. Of course, the timing is terrible, Grace is very busy getting her school play made after funding has been ripped from under it, is desperately in love with her drama teacher, and suffers from all the usual high school troubles, torments and problems.
But her friends are there, constants in her chaos as the three Grace selves help our 18 year old Grace deal with her life, move on and grow. In turn, each past and future Grace deals subtly and gracefully with troubles of their own, blinking out of existence as they find contentment.
Derek Kirk Kim writes in a delightfully lightweight style, capturing with seemingly effortless ease what seems like a pretty realistic teenage girl’s voice. My only problem is with the artwork. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jesse Hamm’s work. It’s just that I’ve seen Derek Kirk Kim’s work on Same Difference and Other Stories and just wish I’d have had the chance to see Kim illustrate Good As Lily as well. Just gazing at the beautiful cover isn’t enough. But Hamm’s work is nice enough and certainly good enough to be carried by Kim’s story.
For another take on Good As Lily, see Kenny’s review of it in his best of 2007 post.
All in all, Good As Lily and Blabbermouth are just fun little books, well worth whiling away a part of your day. It’s not making a huge statement about anything, it’s not trying to change the world. All it wants from you is to put a little smile on your face. And I’m wearing my smile right now. Whether Minx, in the long term, is the kind of success DC obviously hope it will be remains to be seen. And I’m pretty sure that whether I like it or not matters not one whit to the marketing people, because as I said, I’m just not hip enough, not trendy enough and certainly not teenage girly enough. But for what it’s worth, I’m enjoying the line.
Richard Bruton is a lifelong comics fan and former Comic Book Store Guy; you can read more of his thoughts on comics and life on his blog Fictions.