Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Blue Monday Doctorine

Something that I do alot of and don't talk about that much is reading comics. The Main Man, Bobby Campbell, and Huffer got me into 'em around 1998, and by 2000 I was working at the Comic Book Shop on Marsh Road for $8 an hour or $10 an hour in trade. So, during the couple years that I worked there (during which time I enjoyed very liberal use of the space after hours...) I amassed quite a standout collection. I still read everything I can, but like all the television I watch, and the word-books I read, it doesn't really beg for commentary from me, at least not publicly. I crave puzzling over the philosophical issues raised by every issue of the Amazing Spider Man, both in the lines and between them. Both the misadventures of the guilt-ridden web slinger and the hangover feeling from before I knew it was fiction, but I generally keep it to myself. It's almost like I'm saving up MP's (magic points) for one big krakka-boom.

Now, as you know, I download all the comics I read right now. In my post-work for trade days, I had about a fifty dollar a week comic book habit, and if everybody who bought like me started downloading (free) comics, I suppose it could really harm the industry of the medium I most adore. But I am broke! I understand that the "Big Two" are preparing for modernity by going with online comics. Excluding the money issue, I definitely prefer print issues, not just for the tactile pleasure, but especially the smell. Of course, new books don't smell like old ones anyway; glossy paper is near odorless compared to newsprint. But, there is one and apparently only one comic that I NEED the print issue of. After quite a break, there is a new issue of Blue Monday, entitled "Thieves Like Us".
Thieves Like Us #1

Spanning in print from the year 2000 to the present, Blue Monday (named after the New Order song) is one of, if not the finest comic book in the Danthology Pantheon of Print. Great comics, like love, come in spurts. That is, they are a story or group of stories told by a unique creative team at some point during a character's history. Such as Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four, Grant Morrison's X-Men or the Invisibles or Batman, Will Eisner's the Spirit, David Lapham's Stray Bullets, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Bendis and Bagley's Ultimate Spider-Man, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Wolverine, etc... These are all very personal runs in which the creators establish a tone, a feel, a worldview, AND exploit the fact that they are making comics and highlight the medium in use. In works such as these and many others, when you really delve and digest the story, you get what the writers and artists are trying to say directly to you and only you based on your interaction with their work at that time. I do believe I've liked what Mz. Chynna Clugston has said to me through Blue Monday best of all.

The first issues printed in 2000, following some terrific one-shot short pagers in Oni Double Feature, and is a fictionalized account of Mz. Clugston's high school days (and hence is the inspiration/point of rip-off for my and Bobby's wonderful Suburban Legend Comics (well, I did all the rippin', to be sure, Bobby is 100% original)). Our's is of course more masculine and American, with a dash of Dazed and Confused and Pete and Pete tossed in, but nothing without Blue Monday.) The stories take place in the early 1990's in Southern California, written (or at least published) when the author was 25 and the reader (me) was 20, and are about 15 and 16 year olds. Now the author is 34 and the reader is 29, whilst the characters remain 15 and 16. I heard recently that the reason teenagers make so-called "poor decisions" is that the part of the brain which allows you to fully consider the idea that your actions have consequences, and, if you do something now, you may be even less happy later as a result of it, has not yet fully developed. The practical result is that teenagers think that whatever is happening right at the moment is the be all and end all, and if one party/night/experience is ruined, re: less than perfect, then life too is so ruined. They think that whatever silly relationship they have happenin' is the truest most radical love since Superman and Lois Lane. I always did. I still do! This unfortunate underdevelopment eases a suspension of disbelief that lasts long after you put the book down, that if you're gonna believe in super heroes, you might as well believe in romantic love as well.

So you see, Blue Monday not only opened my eyes and broadened my world of comics and what we could do with 'em (Like cuttin' holes in 'em... more on that later, maybe), but really and truly completely flipped my switch on how to perceive and interact with girls/young women. If you're already familiar with the male characters in the book, you may think me a dick, and maybe presume that their trademark verbal abuse, peeping, and prankery would be childish and unseemly on me even at age 21, and you'd be wrong, but also that's not what I meant. Due in small part to the ages of the characters, Blue Monday is by no means a sex book, but it is an extremely sexy book. Eventually, virginities may be lost! But not yet. I mean, the story has progressed a little over a year in the nine years it's been published. So, most of the book is spent on being frenemies with the opposite sex while simultaneously wanting to get with them very much. I wanted the Betty/Veronica dynamic, so glamorized in the pages of Archie! I wanted romance, and damn if I didn't get it, also thanks in no small part to Blue Monday.

Now, one can probably suspend disbelief a little too well. Suburban Legend Comics may have been more than a macho rip-off. Maybe it's a misguided yet earnest love letter (the best kind!). Maybe seeing the feminine entity that was/is Blue Monday out in the publishing ether, I thought that somehow, by entering the masculine yang into the xeroxed fray, I could nudge past the somehow less than 100% manly-man Mahfood's Girl Scouts and into Chynna... I mean Mz. Clugston's... heart. Of course at this time she was actually Mrs. Clugston-Major, married to colorist-supreme and man-of-action Guy Major, but one night I thought I was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and had monsters in my own pocket, so anything's possible.

The title/Chynna character is Bleu L. Finnegan, an obsessive Anglophile, fresh through puberty, convinced that her uniqueness makes her the coolest girl in school, but sometimes plays the martyr due to it, is admittedly "boy-crazy" (perhaps her most endearing trait to the young male reader), yet feels that every single boy she knows is not good enough for her. The best thing about scripting your own universe, is you get to be at the center. From the reader's standpoint, you like Bleu being the center of the universe, and you like her not settling for the convenient boys who just happen to be drawn there on the page with her. While Romeo and Juliet's family feud kept them apart, all that's keeping you and Bleu apart are the principles of metaphysics. Certainly someone could logically argue fictional characters to life! If only she knew that you were having the same problem over here on our side of actuality with the girls at your school! But silly thoughts like "the Search for the Transcendent Babe" only accompany attending university while drinking, a conundrum outlined in the punk rock song "Blue" by the Endless Mike Jambox.

So, whatever Bleu is into is the coolest, because in this world, what Bleu says goes. And what Bleu is into is Brit-Pop (especially Adam Ant), Buster Keaton movies, and all that which is mod. Not cool is hair bands like Skid Row, Bon Jovi, and their ilk, keeping in mind this is a period piece, grunge had not yet broke, the eighties not yet officially dead. Her BFF is named Clover Connelly, and is an Irish punk rocker who loves hooliganism and curses in Gaelic. Then there is Erin, who is like there friend but not as much, who is fashion-minded and a bit closer to average, with an unhealthy dislike for They Might be Giants. Then there are the wonderful characters of the boys, Alan and Victor. Alan talks the big game of a ladies-man, and dresses conspicuously mod, presumably to be nearer to Bleu's idea of an Ace Face, though he is brutal in his teasing. Victor dresses rude-boy style and is clowned on regularly. That is some of the beauty of it all: friendship through sexual taunting... it's harder to pull of in real life, but when it works! Through the first storyline, the boys are porn-obsessed prank-warriors with no line they won't cross, perfect teenage boys.
The Kids are Alright #1

The first series has two main storylines: Bleu's quest to win Adam Ant tickets from KFAB radio, and her burgeoning crush on thirty year old substitute teacher Mr. Bishop. The story begins in a dream where Bleu is attending a school dance where all the boys want her, but she looks down on them, until her ideas of sexy start rollin' up. First the prime cuties of Brit-Pop darlings (the) Blur ask her to dance, only to be cut in on by Paul Weller, then Adam Ant, and then Bleu comes to, still flirting with and kissin' on an Adam that isn't there in front of her whole class, who bag up on her. The narrative really kicks in between classes when Alan and Victor rush up with cookies stolen form the Down's Syndrome bake sale. They give 'em over to Bleu and Clover and split, only to have the girls busted for stealin' themselves, resulting in mad of detention. They swear dire revenge, and prank-style. They know Fridays are when the boys patrol the neighborhood peeping, so they TP, egg, and whipped cream condom Alan's house and yard. The vicious cycle continues as the boys run ahead of the girls to the burger joint and stuff the broad's burgers with their pubes! Which the girls totally eat! (And Erin doesn't really mind!) The girls wish to hit 'em where it hurts, so they engage in a ruse to get into Alan's house and pilfer his absolutely massive porn collection, including his favorite issue of Cherry, which as you know is as big as the Sears catalog! Finally, the boys steal Bleu and Clover's most treasured possessions, Bleu's Oscar the Grouch doll and Clover's VHS of "Some Kind of Wonderful." An exchange is structured, but the boys get the Montreal Screw Job when they return the doll and video for a huge box of Better Homes and Gardens. The issue ends with Bleu vowing to win those concert tickets.

So I'll spend just a second on style. Chynna is a fully formed writer. The broad actions taking place are both commonplace (re: relatable) and slightly taboo (and even more so later on), and the in-betweens are even better. That is, the interactions between all the characters are so believable and functional that it feel like you are actually part of it. You feel the sexual tension but do not see it. And with the pen, Chynna is a natural. She has an Americanized manga feel that results in everyone being beautiful, but she never hesitates to gag it up, a la John K. It is very easy to fall in love with anyone/everyone in the book. And Mz. Clugston uses the effect of the silent soundtrack, indicating which music would be playing were it a movie, suggesting what you listen to or think about while listening, and giving insight into the characters and author. This is an effect I have always used as well, and always will as long as they let me!
The Kids are Alright #2

In issue two, Bleu continues to obsess over winning tickets whilst discovering that Mr. Bishop, the substitute, likes Buster Keaton movies, "modern music", and drives a Falcon, so she proceeds to fall in love with him. In a scene which I ripped of in Suburban Legend Comics Issue #2 "Sprints v. Marathons", Bleu and Clover peep on Mr. Bishop, but instead of finding him whackin' off, as our version has it go, he is watching "Harold and Maude." Bleu laments their age difference at the pizza joint until Alan and Victor come in and exchange good news for pizza in the form of a contest at the ska show tomorrow with A.A. tickets as the prize. After a terrific scene with a Gary Glitter soundtrack in which everybody gets all dolled up for the show, they arrive, and the contest is to sing along with the band on the Adam Ant song they covered on their last album, which Bleu excels at, but then drops out when part two of the contest is an inexplicable wet t-shirt contest. As she leaves dejected, she sees Mr. Bishop, who commends her decision to retain her pride.
The Kids are Alright #3

The third and final issue of the first story arc starts with a little deus ex machina and Bleu winning the super-last-ever two Adam Ant concert tickets by knowing a bit of Ant Trivia. She of course asks Clover to go with her, but no one, and I mean no one can give them a ride to town. So they hitch and end up riding with a bunch of Shriners who think Clover is a boy due to her short haircut and ignoring her much talked about big boobs. But underaged Bleu has no I.D. to validate her persona and the bitch working the window won't let 'em in. After a series of increasingly frustrating failed attempts at entry, the concert is over and Bleu is crushed not having seen Adam. She's crying on the loading dock, when who should walk out but the Dandy Highwayman himself, and fulfill Bleu's (non-sexual) dream by giving her and Clover a ride home in his limo and the memory Bleu had been trying to generate. The arc ends with Mr. Bishop's substitute status becoming more full time and Bleu's in-class jubilation.

All in all the first storyline was terrific, but started stronger than it ended, due mostly to the fact that the bread and butter is the boys/girls interactions. But this storyline, entitled "The Kids Are Alright" (named after the Who song and album, duh) wasn't the first one I read. Working in the Comic Book Shop, this book had been on the shelf for a couple weeks, featuring a super-cute girl in the middle with a boy on either side, filtered through red, yellow, and green like the Jam "The Gift" album, and at the right time it beckoned to me, and sitting up on the glass counter I read the first issue of "Absolute Beginners."
Absolute Beginners #1

The second storyline is named after the novel by Colin MacInnes. Part two of the London Trilogy, Absolute Beginners was written when the author was forty-four in 1958, but is narrated from the perspective of an eighteen year old boy who is part of the new vibrant and affluent London youth culture of coffee bars, modern jazz and rock and roll music, and Italian scooters and clothes. As such, it chronicles the first years of what would become the mod subculture in the 1960s, all themes throughout Blue Monday. The title, to me, rings as a set of those "magic words." Like a trigger word whose rewards are maybe even deeper than teenage lust, if that's possible. Or maybe I'm attaching more to it cause of what it means to me, but just say it, "Absolute Beginners"... Paul Weller, one of Bleu's many dream boys, was born in the year Absolute Beginners, the novel, takes place, and he referred to it as a "book of inspiration", a quote which appears in the 1986 edition of the book, AND he was in the Jam who wrote the first "Absolute Beginners" song (#4 in the UK) AND his second band, the hilariously named Style Council contributed a song called "Have You Ever Tried It Blue?" to the 1986 adaptation to the silver screen in a film which featured David Bowie on screen and performing a new eponymous number on the soundtrack, not the Jam song.

The first time I opened a Blue Monday comic, the first thing I saw was the cute girl from the cover singing "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." That was Bleu, and her and her sexily rendered friends recieved invitations to a murder-mystery party at their rich friend's house. The core group and a couple other kids get dressed up in 1930's style finery and enjoy dinner before the games begin, but multiple people spiked the punch and everybody got a bit tipsy, much to their host's chagrin. The slight inebriation causes a wine spill on Bleu's dress, and when she goes upstairs to clean up, Blue Monday starts proper. As she disrobes, shaves her legs, and bathes, Alan and Victor are across the way video taping her! Semi-fortunately, it is during this filming that Alan realizes he really has feelings for Bleu and wants to ask her out. He simultaneously does not get the enormity of his perv action. The tape is that upon which the storyline now revolves, and when Bleu returns to school Monday morning only to find that at the very least, the tape's existance is known around school, she passes out.
Absolute Beginners #2

Issue two starts with another dream, this time Bleu and everybody else is naked at school in support of her nudism. She awakes and Clover tells her retribution will be their's, as she challenges the boys to a soccer match under the false pretense that it will not be Hooligan Rules. Meanwhile, Bleu's obsession over Mr. Bishop gets worse as she feels her rep will be ruined if he knows of the tape and he won't want her teenage trollip booty. At the soccer game, Clover viciously beats on the boys and humiliates them in front of everybody, and in the middle of it all, Alan callously asks Bleu to go out with him (which she of course declines, adamently), and is amazed she is so mad about the tape. Erin tries to take advantage of the embarrassment Alan's feeling and comes on to him, but he disses her. So she secretly pits Alan and Victor against each other, telling each of them to pursue Bleu and advising them on how to, even though Victor tells her he prefers Clover. Erin falsely tells him she is a lesbo, and he dumbly believes her, as the boys lose the game and their rep.
Absolute Beginners #3

In issue three, Alan tries to woo Bleu with flowers, Pepsis, and import singles, but she is way mad and the entire school is talking about the tape. Upset about Alan's perceived progress, Victor disses Clover while she was showing a wee bit of her feelings for him. Clover takes out her anger on Bleu, and at the end of her rope, Bleu skips out of school and runs into the forrest to think, where she meets her pooka, Seamus, a giant otter, who generally makes her feel better, and suggests that she aknowledge Alan's advances and go on a date with him in exchange for the notorious tape. She's skeptical, but after her and Clover make up, they see Mr. Bishop with a pretty lady, Bleu freaks out and tells Alan her terms, instantly regretting it. This issue features the most iconic Blue Monday cover, Bleu dazed and walking amongst falling leaves, the Autumnal Angel.
Absolute Beginners #4

So, in issue four, Bleu is really worried and upset about the upcoming date and Alan is way psyched. Erin wants the date to fail so she can have a crack at Alan, and she makes Victor believe he still wants that crack at Bleu, so they team up for some sabotage. Bleu's fears start to settle when Alan picks her up on a cool scooter he had been fixing as a surprise, and she is impressed. Unfortunatley for Alan, the others barely needed to sabotage at all, as he began acting like a total prick to everybody at the restaraunt, who he assumed saw him and Bleu as "punk trash." Still, Monkey Boy assists Victor and Erin by sneaking shrimp into Alan's supper, to which he is highly allergic. To make things worse, Bleu's otter pooka shows up and starts fuckin' shit up on his own, setting the lobsters loose as Alan asks for the check. Though he is getting hivey, the date continues as Alan takes Bleu to a Marylin Monroe film fest (excellent date idea!) Of course, who should be there but Mr. Bishop and his woman! Bleu tries to be all seductive in case Mr. B notices her, but the sabotage continues from each side, as Seamus shows up again and supplies a reportedly extremely nasty fart which Alan has no choice but to assume came from Bleu, and Victor locks a rashy Alan in the bathroom so he misses most of the movie. Finally, as they're leaving the theater, the young courters come upon Mr. B and his date, only to find out she is a visiting sister. Bleu quickly begins to ignore Alan, except to ask for the tape, which he gives her and splits without saying a word. This is the crux of why Absolute Beginners is so rewarding. There is no goodnight kiss, no getting over differences for an easy ending of love they knew should be. After the date, Alan is so pissed, he goes to Victor with a couple copies of the tape (which he swore did not exist), one for Victor's masturbatorial joys, and one to play on public access at 3 am, which Bleu and Clover happen to see, freaking out and ending the tale so far.

Issue one came out in February 2001, followed by issue two in March, issue three lagged until May, and then the final issue hit the stands in September 2001, lesson learned and we all became Tomorrow People.
Dead Man's Party

After the two first chapters but before the third comes the aptly named "Inbetween Days" stories, a series of holiday themed one shot issues. First is "Dead Man's Party" in that classic format of "Treehouse of Horrors" etc... three vignettes told by a member of the gang that work in their already developed personalities. Victor tells a zombie tale based on "Return of the Living Dead", Bleu tells a gothic horror story based on "Dark Shadows", and Clover does "Rocky Horror Picture Show." These are excellent and funny tales, more an excersise in character than plot driven, but very worthwhile.
Nobody's Fool

Next came "Nobody's Fool" encapsulating both St. Paddy's Day and April Fools. In "Everything's Gone Green", a jaded Clover is pissed at all the Irish attentions she is getting and tries to sleep through it all, but her dad throws a party with all her friends, she gets drunk and duct taped up in a shopping cart by Alan and Victor and pushed down a hill. In "Everybody Plays the Fool" Victor is lamenting the passing of his teen years and harkens back to a simpler time, last year, when he was a goth poser and still happy, uncomplicated. He dons his old gear and is gettin' down in his room to some goth tunes, when Bleu and Clover see him actin' a fool. In order to save his rep, he goes to school on Monday all Robert Smithed-out, eyeshadow and a cape, etc... and recites poetry to all the girls in school and becomes extremely popular. Everybody is taken with the new/old Victor, and he put a Byron love poem in every girls locker, hoping to score at least one of 'em dumb enough to think it was original. He shows up the next day in his traditional rude boy/mod get up and disses everybody for falling for his "April Fools." Unfortunately, the girls all compared notes and realized he gave them all the same poem. They glare him off as we see the supposedly same note that he gave to Clover. She opens it up to the simple message "C - You look really pretty today. -V."

The most significant one shot was the final one, a Valentine's Day story entitled "Love Cats." Everyone is excited for the upcoming Valentine's Dance except for Victor and Clover, who want to go with each other, but complications and pride have them both staying at home, especially Clover. Bleu reveals that it was at last years V-Day Dance that they all first met and became a crew. This sets the stage for a flashback, only one year ago but so different, with Bleu as the new girl in school, and Alan and Victor not yet friends, and Alan has a bitchy 90's style girlfriend, and everybody's hair is different! Victor and Monkeyboy lean against the lockers talking big game, and Bleu and Clover sit on the bleachers initially bonding over their love of the Cramps (and at the time the story takes place, Lux Interior would live for another eighteen years, it's all too real...) and the fact that Bleu can tell that Clover's accent is Irish, not English. When Victor's request, the Cure - "Why Can't I Be You" comes on, Monkeyboy calls his bluff and he has to ask Clover to dance. Instead, he slips and knocks her tits-first into the punch bowl. He races to get her his stinky gym shirt as Erin (wearing a glow stick around her neck) enters and tries to get Bleu away from Clover. Bleu stands by her new friend and the dynamic of Bleu and Clover with a little bit of Erin is in place. When Clover's ride splits to get some nookie, Bleu asks if she'll stay at Erin's tonight with her. Victor gives Clover his shirt, which she is happy to have, and the five kids sit on the bleachers, while across the room, Alan and his girl fight until she leaves and he calls her a starfish. They all leave seperalety until the boys meet up all peepin' in Erin's house, which they get caught for and invited in to play Monopoly, the game which if you don't end up punching your opponents you love 'em for life. Still, after all the reminiscing, Clover declines to go this year and walks away. The night of the dance, things get snafued and instead of date-style, the gang goes as a group, much to the benefit of Victor, who wants so badly to go to this dance with Clover. Everybody's at the dance, but Clover is still a no-show, so Victor combs the town looking for her. Finally he finds her sitting on a bridge at one of their hang-outs, and trying to make a romantic gesture, moronically tosses a big rock into the stream, dousing her yet again. She pissed and thinks he is being a dick, but he tells her he was just trying to get her attention. She coyly (uncharacteristically) replies that she couldn't ignore him if she tried. One page later is the first real physical sexual contact of Blue Monday, as Victor and Clover share a kiss for .02 nanoseconds in a beautiful splash that after ten issues feels like your very own first kiss. Before we can enjoy it too much, the gang shows up and Victor and Clover jump off each other before anyone sees them, and they all roll back over to the dance together.

So a good amount of time passes, Chynna puts out Scooter Girl and gets divorced from Guy Major, real life romances etc... are achieved and destroyed back in Delaware, and finally, three years later, in 2004, Blue Monday "Painted Moon" hits the shelves. Off the bat it is an immediate disappointment, because there is a "note to continuity nerds" that awares us to the fact that this story takes place directly after "Absolute Beginners" and BEFORE "Inbetween Days." So, Victor and Clover have not kissed yet. This put me off originally, as even five years ago I was dying to see my fave non-actuals' relationship progress, but it would turn out that the subject matter of "Painted Moon" is so vital to the story and equally sexually thrilling as the previous adventures.
Painted Moon #1

It begins with a recap, explaining that Bleu is still obsessed with Mr. Bishop, a social pariah at school for her notorious tape (whose contents have gotten blown out of proportion through the grapevine), and being ignored by Alan, angry at their date's turnout. One important aspect of "Painted Moon" is Erin's turn to more of a villain. She tells Victor that now is the time to get at Bleu, but his gestures all go awry, depressing him and Bleu. In a moment of inspiration, Clover and Bleu go into town to try and score some real boys, only to find that their own boys are pretty much as good as it gets, which depresses them further.
Painted Moon #2

Issue two really kicks it up a notch. When Blue is so distressed that she can't sleep, Erin suggests masturbation to knock herself out, only to have Bleu confess she's never done it! Erin and Clover are shocked, implicitly admitting their own masturbation habits, which quickly gives Victor a nosebleed. Even more shocking, when pressed, it comes out that Victor also has never masturbated. Words can not describe the shock of both character and reader! That night, both Victor and Bleu ponder the possibility and take the plunge. Bleu tries to fantasize about Mr. Bishop, but can't "degrade" him in that way, so Alan forces his way into her fantasy, to much success. Meanwhile, Victor enjoys a dry and painful initial stroke. The next day Bleu shows up for school gleaming so brightly it hurts her schoolmates eyes. She's extermely happy and free of tension until she realizes she's opened Pandora's Box, and aparently adds sexuality into her boy-craziness, staring at dudes crotches, etc... It winds her so tightly she begins masturbating several times a day, in the rest room during school hours, until she runs into Mr. Bishop after a session, and she paranoidly believes he knows her sordid habit. Distraught, she cuts out to hide and overhears Alan and Victor talking about how they think Clover is gay.
Painted Moon #3

Issue three starts with another dream sequence in which Bleu and Clover kiss, signalling Bleu's questions about Clover's sexuality. She confronts her and Clover tells Bleu she is (of course) heterosexual and is pissed at the boys for buying into a stereotype and misrepresenting her, but promising to still go bowling later. Bleu makes up her mind that an eloquent and impassioned speech will make Mr. Bishop respond and possibly wait for legality, which evil Erin agrees and encourages her towards. The next day at bowling, tensions are high as Clover is pissed at the boys and the boys are pissed at each other. Eventually the issue arises of Clover's sexual preference, and in order to prove she likes dudes, she Frenches Monkeyboy as he walks in late, blowing Victor's mind.
Painted Moon #4

The final issue starts with Victor so messed up over Clover kissing Monkeyboy that he thinks everone is against him and enjoying a Secret Swinging Sex Club except for him. Monkeyboy encourages this by mercilessly taunting Victor with his kiss until Victor jumps him and Monkeyboy assures him he was just kidding. Meanwhile Erin tells Alan about Bleu's plan to confess her feelings to Mr. Bishop, highlighting the fact that Alan should have someone who gives him her full attention, someone meaning Erin, and for the first time, Alan looks like he thinks she may be right. Bleu gets all sexified and takes off for Mr Bishop's, but is too chicken to go in so she peeps in through the window, only to get caugt by Mr. B! She tells him everything, and he properly tells her that their is no way they could even think of each other like that, and such a relationship would be harmful to her. She leaves saying she understands, but reveals to the reader that Mr. Bishop's qualm is not with age but with maturity, which she will accrue and then try again, still proclaiming the teacher as her "ultimate goal." Meanwhile, Victor realizes, through watching Pretty in Pink, that Clover kissed Monkeyboy to make him jealous. He finds her and offers a genuine apology, which she accepts, setting up the events of "Inbetween Days." The story so far ends the next day in school with the big reveal that Alan and Erin have in fact hooked up and are now boyfriend and girlfriend, a "match made in hell," shocking everybody.

But what makes it so good? I mean, the point can not be a glory-days style look back at when we was fab, cause, let's face it... we're even fabber now! In fact, Chynna even modernized (pun so intended) her storytelling in Scooter Girl with the narrative achievement of adult-style love, as too did I so attempt in the Marvelous Masked Mower (as yet unpublished). But, I mean, I didn't read a word of it in high school, nor was the author in high school when it was written, nor did it particularly mirror my high school era, nor was it very different! Toddy believes his fascination with "teen culture" stems from the fact that his teenage years weren't reflective of the care-free or consequenceless stereotype that is so bubblegum sweet and nearly dogmatic in our Ramones-centric worldview. But I dipped my toes in on my thirteenth birthday and never looked back, so what say I? And what say Chynna?

Well, as far as issue one of "Thieves Like Us" goes, I can tell you this: one) Erin and Alan are faking it, it is just a ruse to get Bleu jealous and interested in Alan, (but what could Erin's motivation be? Certainly not altruism.) and two) Bleu divulges that she read Mr. Bishop's idea of maturity she was lacking as SEXUAL maturity and excellently becomes determined to lose her virginity, even though she evidently sees sex as "gross", due hopefully mostly to her having seen every animal in the zoo doin' it earlier that day, narratively speaking. Artistically I dare say Chynna has gotten more minimalist with more broad white backgrounds and Saturday Morning Cartoon simplicity mixed in with her beautiful penwork.

Don't hold your breath for issues three through four, as independent Oni Press ships less frequently than monthly and often off schedule. But that's how Holy Books roll, employing their own graduality as a marketing tool for the esoteric, like a self-hypnosis kit. R & R stands for revolution and romance, two very loaded words that in practice are a self-sustaining symbiosis that begins in the mind and if you do it right makes it way out into the world. When I think about all the times in my life that I was utterly happy, it always correlates with my perception of possibilities. They're always all there, way more than we know, and that's what it's all about, that clear-thinking, Good Morning Miss Blissing moment when you see, feel, and comprehend the possibility spectra. Blue Monday is a short cut, a mildly sustainable chunk of paper that reminds you, be it by love or sex or drugs or any nervous system impressionist, that anything could happen and it might be lovely.

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