Madtown High #3
This series is getting better all the time. The first two issues may have suffered a bit from “you had to be there-itis” (not a real illness), but this one seemed more universal in its problems. And hey, it’s not a bad thing that she focused so much on things that happened to her in those first two issues, as she is writing these stories about her high school years, but this issue just felt really well-rounded. Does that make sense? Eh, probably not without you reading this, and quite possibly not even then. Anyway, subjects include Whit watching her biology teacher go through a midlife crisis (depression, starting to crawl out of it, getting called out by the principal for the manner in which he was crawling out of it, then vanishing completely), dances and the cliches that happened at each of them (with a great final panel), how they fought back against a Christmas tree that they were forced to put up with near their lunch table (disgusting and hilarious), the mystery of a “poo” on a window and the various people who probably should have cleaned it up at some point, and the fake crush of all the ladies in her group on a particularly creepy teacher and how they used his picture on a birthday cake. This issue is full of funny bits, and once again you’re bound to relate to/cringe at a few of these stories and how they bring you back to your own time in that prison/wonderful early life journey. Oh, and they’re mostly up on her website if you’re too cheap to get the actual comic, but hey, why not throw a few bucks her way?
Madtown High #2
More high school hijinx! Actually it’s more stories from Whit’s time in high school, but if you went to high school anywhere near when she did you’ll probably find a lot to relate to. I have roughly ten years on her and we still seemed to be listening to the same music in high school, which struck me as a little odd, but that music is pretty perfect for that environment. Subjects in this one include her and some friends making a “B” horror movie in a day and the fate of that movie, going to see her first concert and trying to get onto the set of that awful MTV show where everybody stood outside the windows holding up signs (but hey, she was the perfect age to be doing that, so it’s hard to retroactively fault her), falling for boys in bands (or trying to), the panic that came after the Columbine shootings and the awkward ways that her school tried to deal with it, the local ice cream shop and the tactics of a friend who always gave the guy behind the counter shit, and Whit’s habit of picking masculine Halloween costumes until one year when she accidentally did not. I defy anybody reading this not to feel at least a bit of nostalgia for their high school years, most likely followed by the sheer relief that they’re no longer happening, although that might just be me.
Madtown High #1
If you’ve read a ton of small press comics you most likely already know if you’re interested in reading another series detailing the adventures of the author in high school, but don’t rush off without at least giving this one a shot (her website is good for a preview, as she still has a number of pages up for free as of this writing). This is the first issue of a projected five issue series, and it’s broken up so that it looks like you could read them in damned near any order, or at least you could after reading the first story where she meets her circle of friends. Stories in here include the aforementioned meeting of her friends at lunch (after awkwardly sitting at another table for a bit), her time in the orchestra and the slow disintegration of the hopes and dreams of her teacher, gym class and all the awkwardness that ensued (mostly from other people and the fact that everybody stank after class), joining the science league and the thrill of winning, a bully and a potential bully that never materialized, a crush and her delightfully awkward attempt at making the guy notice her, and a secret hut in the woods that they used to hang out on weekends. I’m intrigued to read this whole thing, as it has long been obvious from past issues of her comics that she has a lot to say on the subject of high school. My only complaint is that a panel here and there looks like it’s been seriously rushed, like the one in the science league story where it looks like the bus she’s riding in is a lumpy cardboard box riding down a street where the grass is on fire on either side and the houses have been flattened. It only happens a few times and doesn’t really diminish the quality of the stories, but shortcuts like that (if it is in fact a shortcut and not just me nitpicking) do tend to stand out. But that’s a minor quibble and shouldn’t detract from the solid storytelling that she did throughout the book. $3