From our friends Howard Shapiro, Joe Pekar and Sea Lion Books.
As many of you know, we have been following the process of the upcoming graphic novel Stereotypical Freaks. We are pleased to learn that the book is completed and will be available to all comic book fans August 8th. We are also excited to review the completed work ahead of that date.
This is the story of Tom Leonard. He is a regular teenager but thinks of himself as so much less. He can play guitar, but doesn’t think he’s good enough. He plays hockey, but is not an athlete. He lusts after a girl, but feels there is no chance of her noticing him. None of this makes him a loser, even though he believes the world sees him as such. Funny enough, the most abnormal thing about him is that he comes from two loving parents who are happily married.
He has friends both current, old and new that we meet throughout the story. There is Dan Roberts, formerly known as Dan Bob, who rounds out the band. Bass player, slightly overweight, too smart for his own good and full of father issues Dan is a perfect compliment to Tom.
Mark, formerly Marcell was best friends with Tom in the pre teen years. Once he discovered sports and girls a split occurred and the wounds have yet to be addressed let alone heal. Jaelithe is the most beautiful girl in school and her introduction is up there with Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane, with Tom as the young tiger who wants to hit the jackpot. Every band needs a drummer and luckily the new foreign exchange student, Jacoby, is a demon on the skins.
The cast is assembled. Music becomes the focus of their young drama filled lives. Jaelithe starts dating a guy who has a group and there will be a battle of the bands soon. The only way to get the girl is to beat the guy in the one area Tom feels he is the better. On the stage. All expectations are for the band to practice day and night in hopes that they will win the contest, become high school stars, and Tom will get the girl.
But then life changes everything.
The heartbreaking twist needs to be discovered on your own. There will be no spoilers within this article. To dance around that though, it is one of the most emotional reading experiences you’ll ever have. While reading the book earlier today, I turned the page, saw what was coming and I thought “fuck you Howard”. I knew he was about to break my heart. I knew this isn’t a Marvel or DC book in which everything will return to status quo at the end of it. This will be final. There will be no doubt how this tale will end, and it hurts.
Don’t think that the entire book is a downer though. Through the challenges and tragedies of life every character grows for the better. They all overcome so much. The book starts with children but in the end they are that much closer to adulthood. They have been through an experience that forever changes their lives. Life will still throw much more at these guys over the years. There will be more troubles, but going through a difficulty like this at a young age prepares all of them for anything that may come.
I wouldn’t feel so wrapped up in this story if it wasn’t so well done. The writing is incredible. It has been many years since an adult as written teenagers so naturally. Not one line reads false. Not a single moment comes across as over the top or heavy handed. Every bit of dialogue could be heard in any high school or mall you care to walk into. The art flows so naturally its almost music itself. If there is any complain I could make its about the gorgeous full color cover. I would love to see more posters and prints like that.
Whether it be the music that connects these characters, or the words and pictures that connects Sea Lion Books to Howard and Joe and them to me, then to you the reader of this blog – art unites us all. Art is there in our best and worst times. Friendships are formed and bonds are forged because of similar artistic passions.
The Stereotypical Freaks teach us that life is too short. Too short to fight with anyone. Too short to not make sure every single day is precious. Most of all, too short to not ROCK!