On my way out of Isotope a few months back, after talking with James for my Bold Italic Comic Shop Tour, he handed me Blue Monday and asked if I’d review it. Obviously not one to turn down new comics, I said yes. Clearly my timeline is a little skewed but better late than never!
Blue Monday from Chynna Clugston Flores with colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Jeremy Cox and Amie Grenier is about Bleu and her teenage buddies getting up to trouble in high school. This collection, The Kids Are Alright, follows Bleu as she battles out a prank war, desperately tries to land Adam Ant tickets, and gets a fat ol’ squishy on her substitute teacher. It’s bright, loud, brilliant, and hilarious, just like the best parts of your teen years should be. But that doesn’t stop Flores from touching on some of the edgier parts of growing up.
Flores addresses the boundary issues that can develop between teenage girls and the world they move in with an appropriate weight and timing considering her characters’ age. Teenagers tend to brush things off in order to move forward or “get over it” and Bleu’s run in with a skeezy radio DJ and a guy friend demanding affection in exchange for concert tickets does just this without diminishing the importance of those moments. They’re addressed, acknowledged, and then Bleu turns her attention to hitching a ride with Shriners into the city. As a former teenage girl I can say 10/10, absolutely accurate, can attest, and I appreciated this touch to Bleu’s otherwise musical fantasy land.
Flores’ art and Bellaire’s colors give Blue Monday a very manga-but-not vibe, a lot like Scott Pilgrim, although this work predates O’Malley’s by 7 years. The pages have a lot of energy and impulse, which makes for an overall fun read pocketed with music references that I didn’t quite get because I grew up in Idaho (I know, I’m sorry, too). I’d definitely hand this to my friends that showed up at my house on Sunday nights with stacks of clearance rack punk and mod to make me burned CDs while they shook their head at the faces I made. But I’d also give it to the girls who’s closet I tore apart before going to a street punk show at the local (and only) all-ages venue. Blue Monday rides that line between slice of life fluff and pop-star saga–in the best way.