Hopeless Savages: The B-Sides

B-Sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies, the latest in the Hopeless Savages series, is a shorter sampler than the other graphic novels. It contains three flashback stories about Zero’s friends and bandmates.

“Flora” (art by Becky Noonan (Demo)) shows the origin of the band, set against a backdrop of preteen exclusion and school politics. Flora’s somewhat pretentious, with the vocabulary of a Dawson’s Creek refugee, but she’s got an in-story reason: Mom’s a shrink. The look of Cloonan’s characters swing from punk to lovely to monsters, appropriate for mercurial teens.

B-Sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies cover
B-Sides: The Origin of
the Dusted Bunnies

“Emma” (art by Vera Brosgul (Flight)) flashes further back, with a kid Zero finding a friend at an unexpected location: the comic store. It’s set in 1989, and the comic book titles of the time, dropped into the dialogue, make it sound like a modern golden age. What memories! Emma’s the niece of the store owner, and she’s completely lovable. She constantly says what’s on her mind, only belatedly realizing that she might sound rude and apologizing. She’s ostracized by other kids because they think comics are weird. She’s all big eyes behind glasses and closed-up body language. And she’s read everything in the store.

“Tobey” (art by Mike Norton (Queen & Country)) is even more adorable, since it’s based around baby Zero. Her vocabulary, as she’s learning to speak, is impressive, with random utterances that demonstrate (with thought) how hard the writer’s worked to create the effect. Norton’s characters spark with expression, especially when they’re at odds, or when Zero is toilet training. It’s almost magical, the effect cute kids have on battling adults.

I said this about the last book when it came out, but I think this is my favorite Hopeless Savages story. And that’s one of the amazing things about this series — it keeps getting better and better. Van Meter uses history and flashbacks, playing with time, in new and original ways. Who we were affects who we are; history is important, but it’s not a chain or a crutch.


5 Responses to “Hopeless Savages: The B-Sides”

  1. Lea Says:

    I love the B-Sides so much! My least favorite parts are Norton’s (Sorry, Mike! Sorry!), though, because he doesn’t look like he really knew how to draw toddlers.

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The second book in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series of graphic novels opens with a flashback to a 16-year-old Scott being dragged into forming a band by friend-against-his-will Lisa Miller. It feels similar to a Hopeless Savages story until one day, Scott arrives at school to find everyone beaten up and his geography partner kidnapped by boys from a rival school. He fights his way through to rescue her, and the two start dating. [...]

  3. Coming Up: Graphic Novels Due Later Than September 2010 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the existing Hopeless Savages material” — which I assume means the three books plus the B-Sides comic. More exciting: “new adventures in [...]

  4. *Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits 2000-2010 — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] — Hopeless Savages, Ground Zero, and Too Much Hopeless Savages — plus the one-shot, The B-Sides, contained here. I’ve read them and loved them. But the release of a one-volume catch-up [...]

  5. Publishers Weekly’s Best of 2005 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] (although I expect to see the eventual collection, Five Crazy Women, get high praise next year) and Hopeless Savages: B-Sides. [...]

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