Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits 2000-2010
written by Jen Van Meter; art by Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Chynna Clugston Flores, Ross Campbell, Andi Watson, Vera Brosgul, Becky Cloonan, Mike Norton, Tim Fish
I already owned the three books — 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 collection was a wonderful excuse to re-read and remember just why I adored this series and its characters.
Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage are a rock’n’roll love story, two punks with the happy ending of devotion to each other, marriage, and a family. Now their kids, raised with the principles of free expression and self-responsibility, find themselves navigating life and love. Arsenal’s a fighter, Twitch a mod artist, and Rat a rebellious coffee corporation employee. (How else would you strike out against punk parents?) The youngest, Zero, is the most brilliant, still full of youthful aspiration and running her own band.
Writer Jen van Meter sketches the characters brilliantly, making each one you’d like to know and spend time with, plus she’s got a wonderful felicity for made-up slang. In the first story, the kids have to work together to rescue their kidnapped parents. Then Zero starts to struggle with dating and mistaken impressions others have about a famous kid, while her family’s being filmed for a “where are they now” TV special. In the last long story, Arsenal and Twitch (who are dating brothers) are off to Hong Kong for a martial arts tournament while the others cope with their fundie grandmother and her picketing pastor. So there’s action-adventure, a high school romance, and a globetrotting spy thriller — see how versatile this concept is?
In addition to the three major stories, there are three shorter flashbacks with Zero and her friends (and later bandmates), plus six short-shorts, four in color. Most are pictures of the kids when they were younger, except for one happy ending with Twitch and his boyfriend. I checked the original volumes, and I was just the tiniest bit disappointed to see that some of the construction work (sketches and layouts) didn’t make it into the new book, but it’s thick enough as is. And it gives me an excuse to keep the previous books, just to be a completist. I think my favorites are these little backups, because they’re so funny and loving, especially with the youngest Zero.
It’s astounding to look back and see just how talented original editor Jamie S. Rich’s eye was for artists. (Many of whom participated in this interview roundtable.) Major portions of the overall story were done by Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Chynna Clugston Flores, and Ross Campbell, with smaller bits by Andi Watson, Becky Cloonan, Vera Brosgol, and Mike Norton. Quite an excellent scout, that Mr. Rich.
The publisher has mentioned new adventures coming later this year, and I can’t wait. More is never enough, because we could all use a family like this one. (The publisher provided a review copy.)