So as a way to assist our local library moving to a different location we checked out the maximum number of books from the library and will then return them to the new location once it is open in a month. Of course what we did was picked up as many graphic novels and comics that looked even vaguely interesting to read!
One of those happened to be The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means, MK Reed, and Joe Flood. It is a really quick read, but so much fun and deals with a lot of interesting stereotyping issues. The great piece is watching the interaction between the various characters play out and thinking of how our relationships can be different if we are with the right person. The reason I think this graphic novel works is that the two main characters are pretty likable; if they weren’t then the story would not work.
Jane and Jack
So the two main characters are Jane and Jack. Jane is a skater who has moved around a lot, so is new to town, and works at a skate shop. Jack works a soup cart and is a bit klutzy and very laid back. They end up meeting each other because Jane is skating her way to work and ends up crashing in front of Jack’s soup cart. Jack helps Jane up and gives her a free cold drink to help ease the pain in her coccyx. Jane rides off to get to work without even getting each others name. Jane actually ends up coming back the next day, so Jack gets up the courage and asks her out incredibly awkwardly. The beginning of their relationship is just so cute and Jack and Jane are both so laid back in general that through all the awkward moments it just works. At the same time what works for one person does not work for everyone.
One of the pieces that I find particularly interesting is the focus on making a relationship work. Honestly, if after the first date Jack and Jane have, you still want to see the other person then it is worth sticking it out. There is a question whether we need to know everything about a persons past before we even begin a relationship. Do we really need to know what went wrong with a past relationship because does that really say what our current relationship will be like? The idea of the Cute Girl Network is that they feel like yes you need to know about all of a guy’s failings before beginning a relationship because then you can avoid the losers. At the same time what annoys one person could not be a big deal for someone else. Also, there are always two sides to a story.
The other piece that I really like is that the story definitely plays on stereotypes and turns them on their head. Jane is a girl who happens to be good on a skateboard and works in a skate shop, which is run by all guys. She has so many moments that reminds me of women in comics and women in gaming. Men who come in to the store and want to talk to a man because obviously a woman couldn’t help them. Men who say that she was just hired because one of the guys wanted to sleep with her and not because she is any good. Honestly these moments are some of my favorite of the entire comic, because of how they are handled.
So the best thing about The Cute Girl Network is that it is just fun. There is a book club that we see throughout the story that is discussing a book that is totally meant to be Twilight called Vampyr Boyfriend. I mean it is a total side reference and not at all what the story is about, but it is such a great reference in the story overall. It is those little details that make the story a good fun read, while having a larger look at how we view relationships and emotional baggage overall.