graphic thoughts

The Plain Janes

I’m not sure why I didn’t order this title with my monthly comics when it was advance-solicited in Previews, but I finally picked it up at Barnes & Noble yesterday, and am I glad I did!

I could not put it down.  I had to, though, because my errand-running ran late, and I had to rush to meet my friend for dinner (“one more page… okay, ONE more page… AIGH! LATE!”)

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a doldrums as far as reading is concerned.  I haven’t found too many books that capture my attention enough for me to just want to sit and read them.  I get distracted and go off and do other things, but THIS book not only held my attention, it riveted it.  I’m sitting here typing this and thinking about just rereading it, because it was that good.

The Plain Janes tells the story of Jane, a high school freshman from the big city who, after a very traumatic incident, decides to become someone different, someone stronger and able to face up to anything. Her also-traumatized parents take her and flee the city for the “safety” of a very distant suburban setting.

But this is not an angsy, typical girl-against-world story.  This is the much more subversive and moving story of a girl who wants to change the world and herself by making those around her happy.

On her first day at her suburban-boring school, she’s invited to join the cool-girl table–shades of Buffy and any number of other teen-girl stories where the potentially cool girl is offered her entree into the Popular Crowd. Jane rejects this, but that isn’t the story. This isn’t the story of Jane and her new uncool friends versus the popular crowd. Like Buffy, this story is much too good for that. Jane herself is much too good for that. Jane wants her life to be more interesting and meaningful and artistic. Jane also does not find new friends; she literally makes them by the force of her great personality, determination, and the charm and beauty of her ideas.

I can’t really do justice to this title.  It is such a fantastic story starring such appealing characters, especially Jane herself, and coupled with simple, clean, consistent artwork that never overwhelms nor detracts from the story, that you’ll just have to read it. It is surprising, moving, funny, and never over-done.

If every Minx title is even half as good as Plain Janes, DC Comics has a great thing on their hands.  But even if this were the only title they ever published under the Minx imprint (it isn’t; I’m just making a slightly hyperbolic declaration here), it should be considered a success for having brought this delightful story to the world.

Buy it. Read it. Give it to every YA-aged person you know. And hope that every YA-aged person you know is lucky enough to either be or know someone like Jane.

Other opinions:

4 thoughts on “The Plain Janes

  1. Thanks for the reminder to check this out. We have it in YA at the library.

  2. You’ve got really pretty hair … there is that enough about your beauty?

    I *love* this book too!! I am going to give it to my neice and order another copy from my comic shop . She, after all is the age it is really aimed at.

    I did also buy the Mike Carey title , which, whilst not being quite as electrifyingly divergent from what the story could have been was a really funny really sweet version of an often told story (and with some really nice by-play with a present given and regiven by about 4 different people to each other) – and a similar theme to Martha’s Dr Who theme. And the two younger brothers were killing1 but still just real enough.

    What with these two and Scholastic’s first Graphix title I feel teenage girls are going to have a lot of non-manga to read at last … hope a few more women write for other women though or where will those who want wider choice than fantasy/sci-fi move onto?

    Have you discovered Agnes Quill yet?

  3. I have finally fixed the submit button so it is much less narcissistic ;)

    I have *not* discovered Agnes Quill but will look for her. And, sadly, I have not read the Mike Carey book yet — it sits next to my neglected volumes of Y: The Last Man waiting for me to catch up on my reading backlog, but I’m glad to know you enjoyed it :) Also, it is now moved up the reading list thanks to the comparison to Martha.

  4. Agnes Quill is the fictional character – the author is Dave Roman or John Green – I blush to say I forget which and am trying to get offline so will check up later – but it’s one of the guys who does Jax Epoch (the one with the more cartoony art-style – whose art is less prevalent in the bits of Jax that I’ve read)

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