In Chynna Clugston’s Scooter Girl, Ashton Archer is king. He’s immaculately dressed in the coolest clothes, rides the snazziest scooter, gets any girl he wants, and oh yeah, he’s loaded. For generations, it’s a family trait to be the luckiest, most charming, sexiest, most popular guy around. Then Margaret arrives.
Suddenly, he’s a klutz. Nothing unusual about that — many boys become tongue-tied and stumble-footed when they meet a beautiful girl and develop a crush. Ashton, though, gets it bad. Cosmically bad. He wrecks his ride. He falls down the stairs. Girls start breaking dates with him when they find out he’s fooling around with everyone in school. Worst of all, Margaret refuses to go out with him. Soon, he’s lost all his friends, his life is ruined, and he blames her.
He becomes obsessed, determined to win her and thus demonstrate his reclaimed mastery. In order to spend time in her presence, he hires her brother as his tutor. He’s still so in love with himself that he’s convinced that just being around him will change her mind. Continued rejection sends him even further off the deep end, leading to black comedy and idiotic choices. Although presented as a romantic comedy, this story is really the tale of how Ashton grows up. Because it’s a fantasy comic, everything’s exaggerated, but underneath, the emotions and motivations are honest.
Clugston draws amazingly well. She populates her world with gorgeous people, illustrating them with lots of detail given to their clothes and expressions and postures. She even provides a soundtrack for events, captioning panels with song titles. Inserts of historical fantasies and stories of family secrets also keep the book lively.
Clugston has two essential gifts that make her books work so well. She has the ability to convey her loves, whether of music or mod fashion, in a way that invites sharing and understanding. In other hands, a reader might feel left out or preached at (“this is so cool! you should love it too!”) instead of welcomed and involved. She also creates characters that in other hands would seem pretentious, putting on airs to make themselves special, a collection of back-cover-hype-friendly traits with nothing behind them. Instead, the people that populate her stories are charming, sometimes in spite of themselves. They’re human, interesting people you want to meet.