The Plain Janes (DC Comics/Minx)

janeDC Comics launches Minx, a line of teen-girl-friendly graphic novels, with a story that any young hipster-in-training will surely find irresistable.

 

 

The cover to The Plain Janes by Jim Rugg. Click thumbnail for a larger image.176 pgs B&W; $9.99

(W: Cecil Castellucci; A: Jim Rugg)

 

 

DC launches its new teen-friendly Minx line with The Plain Janes, a story that any young hipster-in-training will surely find irresistible. With solid writing by young adult novelist Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool) and art by the very talented Jim Rugg (Street Angel), the Minx imprint is definitely off to a good start.

 

When Jane is hurt in a terrorist attack, her parents insist they leave Metro City and move to the suburban safety of Kent Waters. Jane hates the town, and finds no beauty in the cookie-cutter buildings or her fellow students at the local high school. That is, until she finds the unique "Janes": drama geek Jane, brainy Jayne, and sport loving Polly Jane. Together they form People Loving Art In Neighborhoods-P.L.A.I.N.-and begin a campaign of vigilante art attacks around town, acting under the cloak of night.

 

Their peers at Buzz Aldren High rally around these anonymous demonstrations, but local adults are afraid of the art and take measures to stop it at all costs. The members of P.L.A.I.N. must decide if they are committed enough to bringing beauty into the world to risk getting caught. Like the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume, The Plain Janes is a tale of teens finding their own voices in a world where tyrannical adults fear individualism and expression.

 

Sample art from The Plain Janes by Jim Rugg. Click thumbnail for a larger image.When compared to most comics fare meant for teen readers, The Plain Janes stands out as smart, subtle, and very relevant to today's world. In a sea of manga about people fighting giant robots and boyfriends who turn into panda bears, this is a refreshing look at characters and situations kids can identify with. Life-based comics from writers like Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy) and Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) have been gaining popularity for decades, but this may be the first book from a major publisher that brings that style specifically to teen readers.

 

It is surprising that this is Castellucci's comics writing debut. She has a strong grasp of pacing for sequential art storytelling, which is very different from that of a prose novel. There are a few issues with character development, however. None of the characters seem fully fleshed out except for Main Jane and her parents, the supporting cast sometimes coming off like one-trick ponies. Perhaps the most pronounced example of this is P.L.A.I.N member James, the school's only vocally gay boy. His character is introduced later in the book and almost all of his dialogue is stereotypical and adds little to the plot. Problems like this are likely a product of keeping the book to such a low page count and having only one volume in which to tell the story.

 

An interior page from The Plain Janes by Jim Rugg. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Jim Rugg's style is perfect for the hip, young feel of The Plain Janes. His drawing style seems heavily influenced by Daniel Clowes, the genius behind Ghost World. Rugg's art bears no resemblance to the manga style which characterizes virtually all other young adult comics offerings; this makes him a great choice for the Minx line.

 

If The Plain Janes is any indication, the Minx line could be very important in the comics industry. Teens who are growing out of the manga titles that introduced them to comics may pick up a Minx title and find it leads them to adult titles with similar themes like Blankets or even Runaways, eventually creating a new generation of avid comics readers. Adults could certainly enjoy The Plain Janes as well, especially adults still in touch with their inner adolescent. | Elizabeth Bolhafner

 

Visit www.dccomics.com/minx for a 17-page preview of The Plain Janes!

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