Monday, November 29, 2010

Emily the Strange: Lost, Dark and Bored, Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)

Emily the Strange: Lost, Dark and Bored, Volume 1. (Graphic Novel) Release date: 2006. Author: Rob Reger and Buzz Parker. Publisher: Dark Horse Books. ISBN: 9781593075736.

Plot summary: Organized in a series of strips and vignettes, this graphic novel features Emily and her cats, Sabbath, Mystery, Miles and Neechee. The novel is divided into three subparts: bored, lost and dark. In each subpart, Emily experiences different things and puts forth different ideas and thoughts about the topic. In the “bored” chapter, Emily concocts a “strange sauce” that she feeds her classmates on their food loaf, causing a very strange reaction. She also details thirteen uses for a wire hanger, including a swamp stirrer, head cage, liver skewer and monster pacifier. In the “lost” chapter, Emily visits Lostco, a large warehouse store, where she is on the hunt for cat food. True to its name, Emily ends up hopelessly lost and goes to extreme means to find what she’s looking for among all the free samples and junk. Emily also gets lost in the woods where she stumbles upon a witch’s house made of black licorice. In the “dark” chapter, Emily hosts a public access show called “Deep Dark Thoughts” where she presents just that to the audience. Apart from these topical vignettes, Emily also interviews Elvira and Marilyn Manson, asking them strange and unusual questions.

Critical evaluation: Emily the Strange is dark and creepy, but that’s the point. The illustrations are grotesque. Mouths gape, there’s blood and guts, and few colors other than black, white and red. The vignettes and strips don’t really follow a plot but serve more as a vehicle for Emily to unleash biting sarcasm and societal critiques on the reader. Although this type of graphic novel is not for everyone, it will undoubtedly appeal to teens of the “Hot Topic” variety. Emily’s statements and adventures are often clever. The vignette about getting lost in Lostco is quite funny and something that teens and adults can relate to. She also has clever lists, such as “Emily’s Thirteen Other Uses for Wire Hangers” and “What’s Darker Than Dark.” What is most appealing about Emily is how she maintains her expression, or lack of one, throughout every situation she finds herself in. She doesn’t smile, and always seems to be bored or disinterested. This is reminiscent of popular 90s cartoon character, Daria, who was cynical to the point of it being endearing. Teens can identify with this type of attitude and will find it amusing.  

Reader's annotation: Emily tackles three topics she knows all too well: boredom, getting lost and darkness.
About the author: Emily the Strange was created by Rob Reger and his company called Cosmic Debris Etc. Inc. The character of Emily was created by Reger in 1993 and has since expanded from the graphic novel market to be used on t-shirts, underwear, toys, guitars, notebooks and much more. Emily has also been used in a series of novels for young adults published by Harper Collins. Buzz Parker is just one illustrator of Emily of the Strange novels. Cosmic Debris Etc. Inc. employs a team of individuals to create the stories and illustrations of Emily the Strange. (
Genre: Graphic novel

Curriculum ties:

Booktalking ideas:
Boredom, feeling lost, and darkness
Emily’s view on the world
How graphic novels reflect on real issues

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 10 and up.

Challenge issues:
Grotesque images

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grade 10 and up.
Recommend parent read novel before child or with child.
Recommend parent discuss character of Emily the Strange with child (her point of view and how it relates to family policies.)

Reasons for inclusion:
Positive review from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.
Popular character that has been around for decades.  

No comments:

Post a Comment