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Skim back

Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki


Page 45 Review by Tom

Secretive, obsessive and utterly self-absorbed, that's teenagers for you, and Skim (aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, I think she made up her own nickname) is no different. At least not yet, although she would very much like everyone to think differently.

Already a bit awkward, she ostracises herself further by playing at Wicca and resigning to ridiculous New Age philosophy along with her only friend - the impossibly horrible Lisa. While at first you would just like Skim to shut up and get real, the narrative voice in the form of her diary entries sucks you in, because this is her diary, and you just can't stop yourself can you? Skim's home has recently become a broken mess, her mum kicked her dad out in an incredibly cold fashion after he had two heart attacks, and she has no qualms forcing her bitterness down her daughters throat. Although she doesn't consciously realise it Skim lacks love and attention, and looks for it in her new Drama/English teacher and unfortunate crush, Ms. Archer. However, in an entirely other social circle, Katie Mathews, the most popular girl in school becomes the centre of a media circus when her boyfriend commits suicide amidst rumours that he was gay. Struggling to deal with her own burgeoning sexuality, Skim focuses on this bad situation with a furious disdain. Not Katie herself but the sycophants who rally around her and the School board who now focus on Skim as a "troubled" child. And while Skim might not think things could get much worse, she's about to put herself in an impossible situation when she makes known her true feelings for Ms. Archer. And while Skim may feel entirely at fault for what happens next, a Judge would definitely hold Ms. Archer responsible.

Cousins Mariko and Jillian work in perfect unison together. At first Skim's diary diatribes seem like just bad writing, when in fact they perfectly capture the loose way in which uncomfortable teenagers write about their days. Saying so much about their state of mind without the use of nouns. Mariko's writing is keenly observed and I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't partly based on her own teen diaries. As the entries go on Skim's writing becomes more splintered, what she doesn't write out of shame of discovery is picked up by Jillian's art which often reflects an abstract truth, even if Skim can't. Whereas Jillian's style reminds me of "Girls’" comics of old, there's more than a hint of BUNTY however unintentional, which I'm sure some may baulk at for completely unfounded reasons (say what you like about BUNTY, it had some wicked art back then, even if the writing/layouts didn't put it to best use).

Keep an eye on these two as they are going to go far.