I recently had the opportunity to read a preview of Stereotypical Freaks, the upcoming graphic novel from Howard Shapiro, Joe Pekar and Sea Lion Books. Pun aside, it rocked my world.
Stereotypical Freaks revolves around Tom, about to start his senior year at East Slade High. He’s not lowest on the social totem pole, but he’s far from the highest either. He’s in the I’m just going to ignore you bracket. He rocks out in the basement with his friend Dan Bob. They both play guitar, fairly well, and they leave it at that. Over the course of the book those things change, for the same reason that all 17 year old boys change things in their life, for a girl.
We meet the major love interest, Jaelithe (and what an amazing name too!) but of course she has no interest in Tom. Like I said, she’s not mean to him, nor is she friends with him. Tom is just there and doesn’t deserve love or scorn from his classmates. He wants to win her and prove himself better than the boy she makes out with in the hallways. Suddenly everything starts to happen because of a girl. To show that he’s better than the other guy he needs to show his skills as a musician, which means he needs a band, which means he needs to befriend new people at the risk of alienating his true and long term friend Dan Roberts.
The other major character is Mark Bennett, star football player and Tom’s former best friend. In the opening of the book these two characters have an arc that richly develops both of them and I became engrossed in their story. If you’re a comic book geek chances are high school wasn’t the most fun time of your life. We all had friends when we were younger that became “too cool” for us. If you don’t know what that feels like take a look at this amazing panel.
Look at that panel! That is how you use comics to show that which print alone cannot do. These two (Mark on the left, Tom on the right) are sitting at the same table at the same time. In reality (you know what I mean) there is probably only three or four feet between them. But that one bar to break up the image speaks volumes. They may as well be speaking over the gap of continents, or even planets. I was sold on the writing from page one, but this page showed me I’m in the presence of someone who dogeared and hi-lighted his copy of Understanding Comics.
I cant wait for the full book. I actually screamed in pain when the preview stopped. I need answers now! And you will too. There’s the perils of building a band. The struggle of balancing friends. The embarrassment of parents. The anguish that is a pretty girl who doesn’t know you exist.
You can watch your Gossip Girl or whatever rich pretty teenagers in high school with bad writing show that you want. Stereotypical Freaks has already pushed itself to the top of my pull list, and its not even out yet. If the writing and art continue to amaze me throughout the book as much as it did in this preview did then…. Screw it I’m going to say it. This is the next Blankets.
Be the cool kid. Get in on this now before it blows up and you’re out in the cold. Coming soon from Sea Lion Books.