Faith Erin Hicks Launches Friends With Boys Online

Friends With Boys promo by Faith Erin Hicks

I’ve been anticipating the next graphic novel from Faith Erin Hicks (The War at Ellsmere, Superhero Girl) since she announced Friends With Boys two years ago. Now, I can start reading it! Friends With Boys will be published by First Second in February 2012, but until then, it’s being serialized online.

The Friends With Boys website has launched with the first 32 pages of the book, and it will be updated with a new page every weekday. The comic updates will often be accompanied by blog posts by Hicks. It’s

about Maggie McKay, a teenager entering her first year in public high school. Previously Maggie had been home-schooled, taught by her mom and her only classmates her three (very loud, probably very manly) brothers. Now she’s following her brothers to high school, where she’ll have to deal with something pretty terrifying to a home-schooled kid: her peers.

Friends With Boys promo by Faith Erin Hicks

Plus, there’s a ghost. Although she’s careful to say it’s not autobiographical, Hicks describes the work as “the first comic I’ve written and drawn where I used my own life as a jumping off point…. Nothing in it happened to me, but there are certain similarities that were intentional: I have three brothers (although I am the oldest, not the youngest). I was home-schooled until high school.” The visuals are also inspired by Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Hicks used to live.

This first chapter makes for a gripping opening, and I really want to read more now. I like spending time with these characters, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Hicks has also blogged about how important internet comics were both to her career and for providing diverse reads for her as a fan, accounting for why she’s posting Friends With Boys online. As she says,

There has been much discussion lately (and always!) about the role of the internet in people’s ability to make a living wage through their art and whether or not work is being devalued by so much of it being free. While I agree there are people out there who will consume and would never give anything back to those whose work they enjoy, I believe there are enough people who value art and comics and the work artists put into their comics and who are willing to pay for something tangible in order that those artists can pay their rent. I believe that if Friends With Boys goes online (for free! in all of its entirety!) it will reach a wider audience, who I hope will enjoy it enough that when the book is published, they will buy it in support of me and my publisher. Not every online reader will buy the book, but I’m sure enough will.

I will! I want to read this all in one big chunk, and then re-read it.

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