Faith Erin Hicks's new graphic novel Friends With Boys launches today. It's the story of Maggie, who is about to follow her three older brothers to the town high-school after a lifetime of home-schooling. Maggie is understandably nervous, because everything in her life is unsettled: her mother mysteriously left the family at the start of the summer, her twin brothers have begun to fight with unprecedented viciousness, and the ghost that she's seen off and on all her life has begun a much more persistent haunting than ever before.
What follows is, in some ways, a classic story about misfits in big schools, but it is handled with such deftness and charm by Hicks that it feels fresh. In any event, the fitting-in-at-school plot is just a skeleton which Hicks hangs with fresh tissue: a series of mysteries about simmering rivalries, her missing mother and the ghost that haunts her are the real tale.
As with Hicks's earlier work, Friends With Boys shines in part due to the engaging and lovable character work, personified with a fine and expressive illustration style. Maggie's best friend, a daffy punk girl called Lucy, has my vote for one of the great punk comic characters, right up with Tank Girl. This is a great comic for young people and grownups alike.
I've been a fan of Hicks's work since I picked up her graphic novel Zombies Calling, and it's a pleasure to find her continuing to produce top-notch work. You can preview Friends With Boys in its webcomic incarnation.