Blue Monday: Painted Moon
Blue Monday: Painted Moon picks up after Absolute Beginners, with Bleu caught in the fallout of rumors about the videotape of her nude. (A short introductory comic makes fun of this order, and the actual plot points are explained inside the story in case the reader needs a memory nudge.) She’s crushing even harder on her substitute teacher, perhaps to try and forget about the other rotten things going on.
Victor’s trying to do nice things for her to make up for it, but everything he tries goes wrong in sadly funny ways. Meanwhile, Clover has to put aside her own feelings for Victor in order to cheer Bleu up.
The two girls decide to go looking for some more attractive boys, but nothing goes right there either. Other options are discussed, and the results combine adolescent sexual discovery with the problems of shame and stereotyping in our culture (including the taboo of suggesting that girls like sex as much as boys do). Rumors and fantasies abound.
Chynna Clugston gives us an incredibly honest portrayal of teen emotion, with crushes, mood swings, and verbal abuse disguising interest in someone else. Song name captions suggest a soundtrack for certain panels or pages, adding to the realism. Music never means more to us than it does when we’re teens, and the right song sums up everything we feel at a particular moment.
The art’s crisp and distinctive, with detail crowding the page but never getting in the way of the story flow. Clugston’s become ever more accomplished with her ink line, outlining the characters in a way that subtly calls attention to wherever she wants the reader’s eye. Emotion is exaggerated, supporting both comedy and drama as needed. Black borders anchor the pages and suggest a mood as dark as Bleu’s.
Inbetween Days is the previous book in the series.