{comic} nothing could possibly have gone better

on

nothing can possibly go wrong coverNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong 

Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks

01: First Second, 2013. 

started: online

Reasons I picked this up despite my general disinterest in ever entering High School in any form ever again: Faith Erin Hicks, First Second books, there is a rumor it is really funny. Having read it now, I’ve since added a few more…Charlie & Nate’s friendship only being one.

“Charlie is the laid-back captain of the basketball team. Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. Their unlikely friendship nearly bites the dust when Nate declares war on the cheerleaders and the cheerleaders retaliate by making Charlie their figurehead in the ugliest class election campaign the school has ever seen. At stake? Student group funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

“Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving? Nothing can possibly go wrong.” (~jacket copy)

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Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong uses stereotypes to its advantage, but the unlikeliness of a Jock and Nerd’s friendship goes a bit further than labels. The one really doesn’t understand nor care about the obsessions of the other. Their temperaments are pretty much polar opposite. Nate in particular can be a real ass.

Nate, as president of the robotics club, feels a responsibility to get his team to the National Robotics Competition. He figures: the student body gets to decide how group funds are dispersed; if he is president of said body, they are less likely to be overlooked, certainly not ignored when the more popular cheerleaders are asking for new uniforms. Where Nate underestimates the cheerleading captain Holly, her new ex-boyfriend Charlie does not. This is not a classic story of a girl getting between best-male-friends. It’s great.

While Nate and Holly enact pretty vicious campaigns against one another, Charlie is dealing with problems at home. And this is where the sometimes callous Nate redeems himself. He notices that something is going on and checks in on his friend regularly. One moment encounters the impossibly mean and the next will harbor something nigh on tender between the two boys. Neither of the boys were happy to be thrown together on play dates at a young age (see “Nate & Charlie’s Playdate”), but Nate (whose parent’s we never hear about) has been pretty much adopted into Charlie’s family, and Charlie has come to depend on him. Nate gets to be reminded that Charlie has smarts of is own, as robotics teammate Joanna admits, “I guess you’re kind of cool” (156). [to which Charlie responds after a pause, “She thought I wasn’t cool” (157)? Some things are too effortless for our boy Charlie.]

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There are the breathtakingly mean turns, and the hug-worthy, too. All of these dramatic undertones dart through a remarkably well-timed comedy. The quick and clever wit, a highly expressive medium in Faith Erin Hicks hands…If I wasn’t laughing, I was smiling. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is uproariously entertaining, and completely charming. The transitions are beautifully timed. I was impressed with the actions sequences (the basketball game, the robot rumble). I am completely sold on Hicks’ drawing style.

After reading, I flipped through to confirm how little text there actually is. One of the tricky aspects of an author and an artist pairing is not allowing your slip to show. And often the seams are in the quantity and use of the text. My first experience with Hicks is Brain Camp, which is not wretched, but the asynchrony showed in places—only to be confirmed in seeing Hicks’ other work.  Shen is new to me, but there is little mistaking that both she and Hicks really came together on this story. There is no faltering in its authorial voice. Hicks has an enjoyable wit and authorial talent all her own, but the story has a strong vision and consistency that is a credit to Shen. Could Shen had shone so well without Hicks’ talent and experience? That one cannot easily be called out from the other on the basis of the final work is delicious. I really hope they are able to do more comics together…Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a really excellent work.

—————-

Guy’s Lit Wire interviews Shen and Hicks.

recommendations: an easy sell for boys and girls, teens, readers of comics or no. has a strong nerd-girl presence, an ideal book about friendship for the male contingent. for anyone who like funny and/or charming. for fans of Kim Possible (love that (no longer airing) show). And I am going to dare mention Joss Whedon’s name, because you know that thing he does when he buoys the deadly serious or terribly sad with his refined sense of comedic timing and/or transition away into another scene/sequence? could be I’ve watched a lot of Buffy of late…let me know what you think.

{images belong to Faith Erin Hicks, First Second; after cover, on pages: 7, 20, 56, 25 }

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