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Blue Monday: Painted Moon #1
Written and Drawn by Chynna Clugston-Major

I saw read something last week that got me thinking:

This is the real Golden Age of Comics.


Never before have so many exciting writers and artists been creating so many envelope-pushing books at the same time. Every single month, I discover a ton of brilliant new underground mini-comics, independent graphic novels, “mature reader” ongoing series, and even mainstream superhero books. Like cinema during the ‘70’s, the industry may be struggling, but the medium is firing on all cylinders.
-Brian K. Vaughan

This is kinda how I feel about Blue Monday. The material won’t necessarily make you swap religions or orgasm with every turn of the page (though results could vary from reader to reader), but it represents the kind of book you could only put out in this day and age: a post-modern, eighties-loving, manga-influenced girls’ romance comic sprinkled with cussing and cartoony violence.

The Painted Moon mini picks up from Absolute Beginnners, where Bleu’s friends Alan and Victor destroyed her miserable excuse for a social life by video taping her taking a bath then broadcasting it on cable access. Unfortunately for Alan, this ruined his planned date with Bleu, but it also presents an opportunity for Victor to kiss up and eventually ask Bleu out himself… if only he didn’t keep accidentally giving her shaken cans of soda and wildflower bouquets filled with hornets.

Oh, and then there’s the little problem of him also liking Bleu’s friend Clover.

Wait, then there’s the other problem of Bleu having a psycho crush on her teacher.

A kind of magic exists in this kind of story. That odd little innocence of teenage love. It’s strange, but once the world of sex and dating has intruded into our lives, it takes a long time to regain the fantasies of perfect love or needing that one specific person to be with you.

Bleu connects to us with her shy innocence, but, unlike so many girly comics of the past, these kids are lovably jaded. Cynism counterbalanced by hope. You almost want to call them a cooler version of Archie’s gang, except they’re SO much cooler than those Riverdale dorks the comparison falls flat. These are the little brats who know Hot Topic is where high school punkers are “supposed to go” but would never be caught dead in one.

Chynna Clugston-Major makes the whole thing so cool, you feel a little unworthy of diving into their world. The character designs are pretty enough you almost wonder how they can be school outcasts. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone dressed as a mod in real life, but, sure enough, you can find them here, and they fit in perfectly. Top it off with Major listing eighties song titles during scenes (setting the mood with a soundtrack, if you will), and her world seems to challenge you to try to find a place to fit in.

But this isn’t one of those pretentious, self-centered “girl power” kinda books nobody ever bought in the nineties. Blue Monday aims to entertain you and draw you into the drama. It just doesn’t want to give you the same watered-down slush the genre is often associated with. It wants to be witty, literate, off-beat, personal, funny, and humane. But it also wants you to come along for the ride.

And, like Vaughan says, this is evidence that we are truly in the Golden Age. I don’t think there’s been any prior point in time when a book just like this would be printed. Except maybe as an underground… but then it’d need more boobs (conversely, as a man-hating indie it’d need more… well, man-hating).

Books like this prove what a special era it truly is for the comic reader. So cherish, my friends, and know that times aren’t so bleak as you might have thought.


Jason Schachat

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