Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

"Art saves. Think big. Think P.L.A.I.N (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods)."

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Minx, 2007 - update: Ms. Castellucci just informed me it's been reprinted under the DC Vertigo Comics label. Congrats!
Awards: Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer, 2008
From: Local library

Story: Jane loves Metro City and isn't happy when her parents decide to move to suburbia. The kids at her new school are like they're asleep, but one lunch table looks promising. It just so happens everyone at that table is named Jane. Jane makes a plan to convince the others to join her in neighborhood "art attacks" to wake up the town. But they'll be in big trouble if anyone finds out.

Thoughts: The Plain Janes is my kind of graphic novel: interesting story, fun characters, and clear, amusing graphics. I love that the story is straightforward but still has several amusing twists. It's great that all of the main characters are named Jane (or Jayne), and each has her own, distinct personality and expertise. The art attacks the group pulls made me laugh and got me to think "I can do that," the ultimate danger of  free expression. And I loved that Jane is a vegetarian. Yeah!

Jim Rugg's clear greyscale drawings reinforce each of the Janes' personalities and clearly show the differences between Metro City and suburbia around Buzz Aldrin High. Jane always stands out with her clothing that's a little too hip for school. I love Jane's haircut, but it's hard to recognize her in flashbacks when she has her old hair. The all-caps dialogue is clean and easy to read with just enough bold to get the point across, but not too much to lose impact. I especially enjoyed the use of newspapers and letters to show the progression of events.

Final thoughts: Plain Janes is my favorite Minx title. The Janes are fearless in their efforts to challenge the ordinary and be themselves.

Grade: 5 out of 5

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