Most of you will be familiar with Emily the Strange from the clothing and accessories at stores like Hot Topic. My inner-middle school goth girl (hey, I grew up with Wednesday Addams) has always gotten a kick out of her scowling face glowering at me over phrases like, “Get Lost” or “Be All You Can’t Be”. Because really, if being an antisocial misanthrope is solely the realm of adolescents, I’m in big trouble.
I got a big kick out of Emily and the Strangers, co-written by Emily’s creator, Rob Reger, and Mariah Huehner, who you may know from her work on DC/Vertigo’s book, Fables (and Lucifer). Emily is a teen scientist and musician. She’s working on a bunch of different projects, including a time machine, but her cat keeps getting in the way. She wins a guitar that happens to be haunted by her idol, Professa Kraken, but she has to join radio station intern Evan Stranger’s band. Needless to say, Emily, who’s used to working solo, is having some problems playing with others.
Emily and the Strangers is a lot of fun, and perfect for tween girls who want a little more edge than Betty and Veronica may be offering these days. I’ve never read the Emily graphic novels, but I find Emily Ivie’s art depicting Emily’s with bit more softness than her merchandise depicts her – she’s still edgy, she’s still in all black with her severe hair, but there’s an openness to her facial features and her dialogue that I didn’t expect and I appreciated. She’s a smart girl with interests, especially the pursuit of science – girl power! – and provides a positive depiction of a girl who obviously goes against the grain. It’s a good thing!
Mariah Huehner is very aware of how she’s writing Emily and the audience reading her. She recently Tweeted that “we absolutely thought about girls who would read it & how it portrayed girl characters”, and “I think way too many things “for kids” dumb things down, or resort to being loud and obnoxious, instead of clever & engaging”. Mission accomplished – Emily is clever and engaging, and I think it speaks volumes – respectfully, with an in-the-know wink – to its audience.
Much of the comic is in black and white, with some punches of color to liven up the pages. It gives the book a good feel – it’s staying true to Emily’s original goth girl vibe, while punching it up and making the book more accessible to new readers.
I’ll give this book four out of five stars. If you’re a ‘tween or teen girl, pick it up and check it out. If you know a ‘tween or teen, pick a copy up and give it to her.
There wasn’t any art available from issue #2 but here are some pages from #1 to give you an idea of Emily Ivie’s style,
Emily and the Strangers #2
Writer: Reger, Rob and Huehner, Mariah
Artist: Ivie, Emily
Format: Comic Book
UPC: 7 61568 21376 8 00221
On Sale: March 13, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse
Diamond Id: DEC120099