Driven by her core of inner strength, determination, and need to honor a friend injured in the blast, Jane convinces the other girls to form an art gang, PLAIN (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). Each girl plays to their slightly stereotypical assets, the brain, jock, performer, and artist, and soon well-planned projects appear to horrify the town. As things progress and friendships grow the girls begin to revel in their glory planning more complicated exhibits. With an interesting plot twist, authorities (parents and school, and local police) put a stop to the art vandalism, but not before the girl gang become a unit.
Graphic elements of this novel are crisp; clean black and while illustrations are easy to read and slightly reminiscent of popular Japanese manga. Completely unrelated to the artistic abilities of Rugg, but an interesting anecdotal occurrence none the less, towards the end of the novel I noticed one Jane wearing a Pittsburgh Steeler's jersey; specifically that of quarterback Ben Rothlisberger. As an avid Steeler fan I immediately wondered about Rugg's hometown roots. It came as no surprise to see this sentence at the back of the book, "He grew up near Pittsburgh and hasn't come up with a good excuse to skip town."
The story flows freely and is true to what is popular to teenagers, something that was planned by the publisher Minx Books, a subsidiary of DC Comics.
In a New York Times article by George Gene Gustines, For Graphic Novels, a New Frontier: Teenage Girls, talked with a vice president at DC Comics:
“Teenage girls, Ms. Berger said, are smart and sophisticated and “about more than going out with the cute guy. This line of books gives them something to read that honors that intelligence and assertiveness and that individuality.”
“As a whole, the line is positioned as an alternative for teenage girls who have, especially in bookstores, become increasing smitten with the Japanese comics known as manga. In 2004, DC started CMX, a manga imprint, to capture part of that audience. The marketing then was similar to that used for DC’s other titles.”
(NYT, Gustines, 11/25/06).
In what could be described a male dominated market, it is great to see graphic novels being written for teenage girls. For more information:
- For Graphic Novels, a New Frontier: Teenage Girls, New York Times 11/25/06
- Minx Books - The Face of Modern Fiction