*Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright — Recommended

Blue Monday tells tales about post-punk, hormonally driven teenagers. Bleu Finnegan loves music, especially Britpop, and movies, especially silent films. She’s boy-crazy about pop stars but can’t stand the local dorks. She doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd, so she’s made her own, with friends Clover and Erin and a couple of boys who have crushes on them.

This first book in the series revolves around trying to win tickets to an Adam Ant concert, a crush on a substitute teacher, and ever-escalating pornographic revenge pranks on the guys. It includes the first three-issue minseries; pinups by Adam Warren, Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, Andi Watson, and J. Scott Campbell and Alex Garner; and short stories from Action Girl #14-18 and Dark Horse Presents #127 and #133. It also reprints the charming “Sherlockette: A Tribute to Buster Keaton” from Oni Double Feature #11 in which Bleu envisions herself in the classic Sherlock, Jr..

Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright cover
Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright
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The art has attitude, just like the characters. The busy aesthetic mimics a teenager’s room, with every space filled with a band reference or some other piece of pop culture flotsam. Clugston’s style shares with manga an emphasis on eyes and emotions, as well as being inspired by some of those layout techniques (as when big-headed versions of the characters comment on the story in the margins, or when Bleu’s face is drawn with two dots for eyes and a circle mouth).

The crowded pages alternate between more and less cartoony styles depending on the space available and the desired effect. Firm lines and grey tones guide the eye through the panels. The page doesn’t seem to be treated as a unit; it’s something to hold as many panels as possible. The driving force is action and a madcap feel.

The short stories included here show the artist’s development over at least three years. The modern pages are less crowded and seem to have calmed down from the earliest stories. As well, an increasing use of different line weights make the later stories easier to read.

This modern-day Archie for teens (definitely not kids, due to the language, rude gestures, and lots of talk about sex) accurately captures what it’s like to be an adolescent. The boys are boys, and the girls don’t take their crap. Like Adam Ant’s pop songs, the stories deal with sex in a playful way. Beyond the sexual, they show all aspects of teenage desire, when you’re young enough to really love pop stars with an obsession that’s boundless and when you think you’ll die from embarrassment when you do something silly without thinking.

Clugston has also created Queen Bee, a graphic novel for younger readers about two telekinetic teens. She did a short story about Fate and starting over in the anthology book Four-Letter Worlds and provided spot illustrations for Cut My Hair, a novel about a music fan by Jamie S. Rich.

There’s a four-page parody with the Blue Monday characters in the Oni Press Color Special 2001, where they visit the Oni Press headquarters, become super-deformed (Japanese-style tiny people with huge heads), and get attacked by the company’s logo. Additionally, Clugston illustrated a one-page strip in Oni Double Feature #13, announcing that book’s cancellation.


6 Responses to “*Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright — Recommended”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The Kids Are Alright is the previous book in the series. [...]

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The flashback art is done by Chynna Clugston (Blue Monday) in her usual manga-influenced style. These sections provide important background for the present-day events. The first interlude crystalizes the moment when Rat decided to go a different way from his family; in the second, Rat helps Arsenal through her identity crisis, which softens and provides more of a family context for the rest of the issue. Later flashbacks cover the parents’ earlier careers and how they met, while the last establishes the family’s fighting ethic, best expressed as “might for right” but without being bullies. [...]

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The setup is a classic fish-out-of-water scenario combined with the wacky appeal of a good sitcom. When school reporter Nickels discovers the monkeys have a secret, she’s determined to find out what it is. Kirby knows that Nickels is investigating, but the two still become friends. Meanwhile, photographer Martin is hitting on her, in a good way. The combination of monkey secrets and school intrigue only increases the sense of fun, making for all-around enjoyable entertainment. This book is the missing link between Archie comics and Blue Monday. [...]

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] There are Scooter Girl preview pages at the publisher’s website. Clugston has also created the Blue Monday series and Queen Bee. [...]

  5. Spark Generators 2 ยป Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] artists, like Carol Lay (Story Minute), Rachel Hartman (Amy Unbounded), Chynna Clugston-Major (Blue Monday), and Tom Beland (True Story Swear to God). Not only is this book a fascinating way to learn more [...]

  6. Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Watson (Breakfast After Noon), Christine Norrie (Hopeless Savages book 1), and Chynna Clugston (Blue Monday). Cover and chapter break art is by Terry [...]

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