Friday, June 25, 2010

The Plain Janes

The Plain Janes was the first offering in DC Comics' short-lived Minx imprint, which produced graphic novels aimed at teenage girls who read YA literature. It was written by Cecil Castellucci, a Renaissance woman who writes YA novels, records music in bands and as a solo artist, and directs indie films. Her first novel, Boy Proof won a number of accolades from the Young Adult Library Services Association. This graphic novel was drawn by Jim Rugg, an accomplished artist and writer best known for his retro, hip, and dynamic works Afrodisiac and Street Angel.

The Plain Janes tells the story of Jane, a young girl who survives a bomb attack in fictional Metro City. She and her parents are scarred by the experience and decide to move out to the safer environs of the suburbs. Jane is forced to fit in and make friends after the first month of high school, a situation that frustrates her. She brushes off advances to hang out with the "cool" kids and opts to try to befriend the most interesting girls in her class: Jayne (a brainiac), Jane (who is into theater), and Polly Jane (an athlete).

Eventually, she manages to build some bridges by organizing a series of pranks to liven up a boring town. Together the girls anonymously perpetrate acts of art around town under the guise of P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods), and the quartet attracts quite a bit of attention. These high jinks also attract the disapproving eye of the local authorities, and the students at school experience the consequences of curfews and other sanctions that result from attempts to identify and curtail P.L.A.I.N.

Reviews of The Plain Janes have been largely positive. Leroy Douresseaux wrote that it was "a treat that left me wanting more." Michael Lorah admits the book is not perfect but still finds it has "engaging storytelling" and "charming characters." A.E. Sparrow gushed that it "is an absolutely wonderful read no matter your gender or preference in reading material."

For more about the creation of this book, Matt Brady has two separate interviews with Castellucci and Rugg at Newsarama.

An extended pdf preview is available from DC Comics.

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