Rookie Yearbook Two (Drawn & Quarterly)

Story and art mash together in endlessly interesting ways in this collection of highlights from the second year of the inventive teen magazine Rookie.

 

 

352 pgs., color; $29.95
(W / A: various)
 
What were you doing when you were 11? Tavi Gevinson was busy creating StyleRookie, a website that drew the attention of both the Internet and fashion worlds, and resulted in offers to (among other things) write for Harper’s Bazaar, appear at New York Fashion Week, model for Target, and to speak at Idea City (a sort of Canadian analogue to the TED conference). By the time she was 15, Gevinson was creating an online magazine, Rookie, written for, and largely by, teenage girls. Rookie’s blend of irreverence, specificity, and respect for the variety of lives that young women lead has proved so successful that it has also issued two print collections of the best material from the website. Rookie Yearbook Two includes selections from the June 12 through May 2013 issues, including Gevinson’s “Letter from the Editor” for each issue, and a broad selection of articles, interviews, and other features.
 
I wouldn’t normally consider myself in the target market for magazines aimed at teenage girls. Even when I was a teenager, I had no use for the likes of Seventeen, which seemed to think that girls’ lives revolved around attracting boys through the right clothes, makeup, and body type. But if Rookie had been around when I was going through adolescence, I would have been a huge fan, and as an adult I can enjoy an imaginary trip back to a better version of my teenage years, one in which it was not only safe but a positive virtue to be who you are. Gevinson cites a key revelation from Sophia Coppola in the preface to Rookie Yearbook Two—that she’s drawn to teenage characters because they have time to be introspective, something often lost in busy adult lives—that not only says a lot about Coppola’s films, but also explains how Rookie can appeal to people whose teenage years lie in the distant past. 
 
The prevailing visual aesthetic of Rookie Yearbook Two is mash up, an appropriate choice that captures what it’s like to be a teenager, when you’re forever trying out different roles and just generally experimenting with life to find out who you really are. Text and art are equally honored in in a boldly eclectic graphic style with lots of disparate elements piled on top of each other, Photoshop style—and yet it always works, and there’s a unifying sense of style throughout. That’s a real achievement, considering how many places Rookie is willing to go—articles range from from ghost hunting to minority sexualities to making your own computer to “The Complete Guide to Kissing,” while interview subjects include Chris Ware, Morrissey, and Molly Ringwald. The photo layouts are also inclusive, featuring young women of many sizes, shapes, and colors, and the cover features a photo from baby butch heaven: one adorable young woman with close-cropped hair cutting the hair of a compatriot equally short.
 

 

Rookie also offers a strong contradiction to the many criticisms heaped on teenagers, including that they are so tethered to their electronic devices that they no longer care about writing in the traditional sense of the word. Every Rookie author (identified by first name only) has an individual voice and has something to say, and collectively they provide a good antidote to anyone who says today’s youth is going to hell in a hand basket. To those naysayers, I repeat my initial question: what were you doing when you were 11? | Sarah Boslaugh

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