Ongoing Investigations: Case #159

I remember hearing about Friends with Boys when I was listening to Manga Out Loud podcast and thinking it sounded interesting but I forgot to look into the title further. But when I remembered I could read the comic online as web comic as mentioned again on the 3 Chicks Review Comics podcast I set aside some time to read Friends with Boys. The first thing that stuck me was the art reminded me of the art of Chynna Clugston. Both women have a style that is clearly manga aware but is equally informed by a wide variety of comic traditions. Faith Erin Hicks will discuss Tezuka as quickly as Bone when she is commenting on a page of her comic. She has an expressive style that lends itself equally well to web comics as well as traditional print comics. The story itself has two main layers. The first is the story of how Maggie McKay has to deal with going to a public high school after being home schooled all her life. At the same time there is a supernatural element of Maggie being able to see ghosts. The highest praise I can give the story is that if you removed all of the supernatural parts I would have found the story equally enjoyable. Maggie learning to make friends outside of her brothers with the punk Lucy and her brother Alistair was perfectly wonderful. While the ghost story tied the mundane drama together it was never forced to pick up the slack on the story. If anything it felt slightly thrown it just to make the story stand out as more than a mundane tale of friendship and self discovery. It did not detract from the story but it was an unusual addition. I will mention that not every plot element is wrapped up. If you want answers to every question the story poses you will be disappointed. The main story arc is resolved satisfactorily but certain side elements are left to your imagination. I don’t think the story is purposefully written to be a ongoing series. A sequel could be written but nothing in the book demands it. I would read more about the life of Maggie McKay and her friends and family but do not feel cheated if I never got more. The story itself is only up as a web comic for a few more days if you want to sample it but you can buy the physical book right now as well. As a side note what has Chynna Clugston been up to recently?

Avatar the Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures is a collection of short comics with mini-stories that happened during each of the seasons of the TV series. The book is divided into sections based on the books in which each story takes place. It is a little disconcerting if only because you are somewhat forced to remember what was happening at that particular moment, but you get on board fairly quickly. There are lots of different artists and writers so some are more stand out than others. I particularly liked the stylization by Brian Ralph for Momo’s adventure and the youthfulness of Gurihiru’s art. The greatest and most hilarious moments include the return of Wang Fire. It is a fun collection of mostly humorous anecdotes but nothing that screams buy this!

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