Book Review: The Plain Janes

5 08 2008

For those internet natives among you who have an average of 1.7 seconds of browsing time on each post or page before you need to clink on a link to a video of a dog riding a skateboard on YouTube, I will sum up the rest of this review in plain english:

The Plain Janes is a brilliant comic book. You should read it.

Okay, you can go watch that skateboarding dog now.

The Plain Janes is a comic book (for lack of a better term, a graphic novella) with a simple message: Art Saves. The plot blurb at DC Comics website is accurate if a bit bland:

When a transfer student named Jane is forced to move from the cool confines of Metro City to Suburbia, she thinks her life is over. But there in the lunch room at the reject table she finds her tribe: three other girls named Jane. Main Jane encourages them to form a secret art gang and paint the town P.L.A.I.N. — People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. But can art attacks really save the hell that is high school?

The book is quirky, fun and downright inspiring. The main characters are people you would want to meet and be friends with. It offers the comfort of a familiar setting and seemingly standard plot-line which it then deviates from in delightful ways. The book was more intricate than I had been expecting, and inevitably the characters must respond to the tensions of a terror threat culture in addition to navigating teen relationships and the often horrid institution that is high school.

The book is part of the Minx line of graphic novels being published by the mega-giant DC Comics, but it’s got indie heart. Upon reviewing the line-up I believe the Minx is attempting to target teen girls, with offerings from many female comics authors. Personally, I think this is fantastic. One of my biggest dreams for comics publishing is a proliferation of different voices and genres.

Final thoughts: this is a book that should be in every high school, college and public library in the nation. Someone should be waiting at the doors of high schools to hand them out to freshmen along with the schedules and planners. This is the kind of book that could save lives.

And I can’t wait to read the sequel, Janes in Love.

You can read the first 18 pages of the book on the DC/Minx web site.

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One response

6 08 2008
Avid Book Reader

How cool is that, an “art” book that teaches about the importance of art – and its geared towards the younger generation. that is just what we need; seems like the only ones that care about art these days are older people or artists – we need to instill a love of art into the younger generations. This might do it.

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