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Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits 2000-2010

Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits 2000-2010 back

Jen Van Meter & Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Chynna Clugston Flores, Sophie Campbell, Andi Watson, Vera Brosgol, Becky Cloonan, Mike Norton, Tim Fish, Catherine Norrie, Meredith McClaren, Terry Dodson


Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb

Everything to date in one massive volume including bonus strips in colour.

PHONOGRAM's Jamie McKelvie writes: Every comicbook I make owes something to HOPELESS SAVAGES.

Here's a newly extended version of my review of volume two from 3007 BC:

The titular Hopeless-Savages are a family whose figureheads are two punk legends, each infamous in their own right before getting it on and really setting the world on fire. Now they've four children, the youngest of which is Zero, seventeen, with a fully formed band of her own. Rehearsing within earshot of her Grammy Award-winning parents proves a lot less daunting than falling in love with the only guy at college who doesn't want to get straight into her pants. Ginger's in love with her all right, and has been since early childhood, but he's reticent to the point where she has to do all the courting (indeed to begin with he's convinced that all she could want from him is a Platonic friendship which would cause him more pain than nothing at all), and Jen and Bryan both succeed in evoking all the awkwardness and frustration and desperation involved when confidence is low but there's so much to gain. Complicating things further, Zero gets grounded just as an intrusive television crew descends on the Hopeless-Savages for a Fame & Shame Legends Of Rock type affair, furiously blurts out a confession of love for the boy she supposes at that point to hate her, and faces the prospect of this being a prime piece of footage when the programme is aired.

Van Meter's set-up is smart: although no one seems capable of seeing past their clothes, names and reputations built by those who themselves couldn't see past their clothes, names and reputations, each member of the family is a clearly defined individual in their own right, which constantly lands them in trouble in the Principal's office - the proud, non-conformist parents included. This gives Jen has plenty to play with, yet she declines to force them all on us at once, introducing just enough history to illuminate the individual's perspective on any given situation, should they care to share it. This is where the flashbacks come in, and her choice of artists proves perfect for each.

Bryan Lee O'Malley (SCOTT PILGRIM, LOST AT SEA) renders particularly squidgy versions of the characters - superdeformed as the description goes for Japanese figures - and lends a real passion to the confrontations. But I also particularly enjoyed Chynna's tender sequence in which, when asked by Zero for advice, art-school brother Twitch reflects wistfully on his own prior love life, and feels that his succession of mistakes born of one big mistake make him wholly unqualified to comment. As it happens, they make him eminently qualified, for that one big mistake was to sacrifice his true love for Henry for fear of holding back his career. Zero follows her brother outside:

I think you were brave. Like that thing? About if you love someone --
Set 'em free? Passive-aggressive crap's what that is. You don't need to set people free. They already are. Henry and I might not have been forever, but so what? Not every good important relationship is. I was afraid he'd regret the missed chance and come to resent me. I turned away, settled for less to avoid future pain. You do that, you'll get nothing but what you deserve.
So I shouldn't give up?
Listen to me. If the one is right there... and you cheat or betray that in any way... everything that comes after will suffer. Everything.

One of the bonus colour strips, by the way, sees Twitch and Henry first get it together which in turn catalyses Henry's brother Claude getting it together with Twitch's sister Arsenal... during a judo competition!

My only qualms are - once again - Zero's made-up language. I don't know if the device is for euphemistic purposes (i.e. to replace swearing) but some of the actual choices are less than convincing.

However, coming back to Ginger's initial fears, this piece of dialogue really takes the biscuit, and if you've ever been there then you'll join me in wishing we all had a little of the young lad's self-knowledge:

I don't want to be the nice guy you hang out with while you repair the damage done to your self-image by egotistical thugs who wildly underestimate your worth. I don't want your head on my shoulder while you tell me what a great friend I am, so sensitive, just like a brother. I don't want to have to act happy for you when you go off with some charismatic idiot who - at best - thinks you're an ordinary girl and not the treasure I know you to be. I don't want to look at you wistfully every so often, but never dare admit I've been wild about you since first grade because it would complicate your life and ruin the friendship. I've seen it. I don't want it. Sorry.

Way to go, Jen.