Friends with Boys

illus. by author. unpaged. First Second. 2012. pap. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-556-8. LC number unavailable.
RedReviewStarGr 6 Up—Maggie's secure homeschooled life with three older brothers, Daniel, Lloyd, and Zander, is ruptured when she must negotiate the rough waters of public school and a new family dynamic. She also happens to be haunted by a ghost, the widow of a sea captain, who is less terrifying to Maggie than the prospect of high school. She eventually becomes friends with siblings Alistair and Lucy. This friendship is complicated by Alistair's uneasy relationship with Daniel. The threesome visits the local museum and locates the sea captain's prosthetic hand. Maggie determines that returning it to his widow's ghost will put the apparition to rest. When her theft is discovered, Maggie's brothers come to her rescue, returning the missing artifact and exonerating the trio. Various panel sizes are used to full advantage, creating a cinematic effect that moves from long shots to tight close-ups. Night scenes provide good contrast and heighten the dramatic tension. Excellent pacing gives pause for reflective moments and sets up the action scenes. Hicks is a master of wordless panels, using facial expressions, gestures, and character placement to effectively convey emotions that transcend words. Her artistic brilliance is especially evidenced in the character's expressive faces, particularly the eyes. Note Lucy's face during the horror movie and the faces of the siblings when confronted by their father. Originally published as a web comic, this excellent high school drama has already developed an online following. Friends with Boys will win new fans for this talented cartoonist.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Maggie starts high school after having been homeschooled her entire life. Her mother--her only teacher and the only other female in a house full of men (Maggie has three brothers)--left the family the year before. The mystery of a restless ghost is unresolved but evocative in this graphic novel. However, the strong characters and excellent art give teens a (still rare in comics) girl's slice of life.
Starting at a new school is tough for any recently transplanted teen, but for Maggie it’s not moving that triggers the change, instead, she’s starting her first day of high school after having been homeschooled her entire life. Her three older brothers have all made the transition with varying success, but Maggie faces a further stumbling block: her mother -- her only teacher and the only other female in a house full of men -- left the family suddenly the year before. In this graphic novel, Maggie has to tackle making friends, figuring out cliques, and finding her place among long-established groups on her own. Hicks excels at showing everyday adventures and contemplative moments in expressive, sharp black-and-white ink work and careful pacing. Maggie’s conversations with her brothers, especially the sympathetic Daniel, who has found his niche among the school’s theater crowd, ring particularly true. The mixing in of mysteries involving a broken friendship and a restless ghost add layers to Maggie’s world. The additions are evocative, especially in conveying the connections between the unknown reason for her mother’s departure and the ghost’s inability to find peace, but the finish feels unresolved instead of purposefully open. Despite the too-swift resolution, the strong characters and excellent art give teens a (still rare in comics) girl’s slice of life. robin brenner

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing