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Friends with Boys Paperback – Feb 28 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Original edition (Feb. 28 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596435569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596435568
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“ Easy-to-read slice-of-life action . . . . Maggie is a likable main character . . .  and her anxiety about school is well portrayed, while Hicks’s black and white art is sharp and comically expressive.” —Publishers Weekly

“Friends With Boys started as a daily web comic, still available online, but was designed to work as a book and is a pleasurable read in both formats. The art is easy to follow, lively, and engaging, with plenty of effective silent moments. For all the expected family and high school angst, the book is rife with humor. Maggie is a sympathetic and likeable character and carries the story capably . . . .  Hicks handles it all with warmth and aplomb.” —VOYA

“Fun for kids who can appreciate stories about teen angst that do not wallow in depression or self-loathing.” —Children's Literature

“The black-and-white coloring adds a nice somber tone to resonate emotional power, capturing a textual tone that moves from comedic to serious.” —ALAN Review

“Various panel sizes are used to full advantage, creating a cinematic effect that moves from long shots to tight close-ups. Night scenes provide good contrast and heighten the dramatic tension. Excellent pacing gives pause for reflective moments and sets up the action scenes. Hicks is a master of wordless panels, using facial expressions, gestures, and character placement to effectively convey emotions that transcend words. Her artistic brilliance is especially evidenced in the character's expressive faces, particularly the eyes. . . . Originally published as a web comic, this excellent high school drama has already developed an online following. Friends with Boys will win new fans for this talented cartoonist.” —School Library Journal

“Filling monochrome ink-and-wash panels with wonderfully mobile faces, expressively posed bodies, wordless conversations in meaningful glances, funny banter and easy-to-read visual sequences ranging from hilarious to violent, Hicks crafts an upbeat, uncommonly engaging tale rich in humor, suspense and smart, complex characters. Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie's brothers--but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to coping with change and taking on challenges.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hicks excels at depicting adolescent emotion and the way feelings ricochet off the actions and reactions of others, each teenager suffering a constant and confusing onslaught of hurt and acceptance, infatuation and rejection, loneliness and relief…She also shows flashes of clever humor…But what mostly emerges is a fundamentally sweet and sensitive story, one with a rare, genuine-feeling portrait of loving sibling relations.” —The New York Times

About the Author

FAITH ERIN HICKS is a writer and artist in Halifax, Canada. Her first two graphic novels, Zombies Calling and The War at Ellsmere, were published by SLG Publishing. Most recently, she illustrated First Second’s Brain Camp. Hicks has three brothers and was homeschooled until high school. She has never seen a ghost.
How much of Friends With Boys is inspired by your life?

I used my own life as a starting point for Friends With Boys. I have three brothers (although I am the oldest, not the youngest) and I was homeschooled until high school. However, I have never seen a ghost. I put a lot of the emotional chaos I felt going into high school for the first time into Friends With Boys. The main character's first day at school freak-out is very similar to what happened to me on my first day. I remember running away from the school and going to my local library and hiding there until my parents came to get me. It's funny, now that I think about it, being so scared of my peers. Everyone's scared in high school, and everyone thinks they're the only one. 

You grew up without a TV. Was that weird for you? 

It was pretty weird. I don't think it's such a big deal now, because now there is the internet, but when I was a kid, the internet was just text on a black screen and TV was the great cultural touchstone. Not having a TV meant no watching GI JOE or Transformers (I did manage to sneak in some My Little Pony, but the episodes I saw were few and far between), so I didn't have that immediate connection to kids my age. It's hard to play GI JOE or My Little Pony when you're not aware of the plotlines. I think TV is a pretty amazing storytelling medium, so I'm not anti-TV by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a huge cultural gap in my knowledge. I don't look back on childhood shows like Transformers and feel nostalgic towards them; I watch them as an adult and they look terribly animated and written and they aren't fun. The original My Little Pony, however, remains awesome. 

Who are your favourite creators and how do they influence your work? 

On this side of the globe, I really enjoy the work of Jeff Smith (Bone), Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Mike Mignola/John Arcudi/Guy Davis (BPRD), and Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole). Elsewhere, I love the work of Naoki Urasawa (Pluto), Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Claire Wendling. 

It seems a disproportionally large number of cartoonist come from Canada. Is there something in the water up there?

Yes. At birth, all Canadian children are brought before the great Wheel of Canadian Destiny, to spin for our future. There are various specific Canadian careers on the Wheel of Destiny, such as cartoonist, comedian, animator, hockey player, hockey fan and Saturday Night Live producer. I don't actually remember this happening (I was a baby, after all), but I assume my Wheel of Canadian Destiny spin landed me on Cartoonist, and here I am. I'm pretty sure the Wheel of Canadian Destiny only has about six or seven options on it, which is why 1/6th of the country is cartoonists. A huge amount, for sure. 

Why did you start drawing comics?

I started making comics because it seemed like fun creative outlet, and putting them online was easy. I'd always been very attracted to the medium (I grew up reading Asterix and Tintin, like all good Canadian children), but there weren't many comics that I had access to that seemed to be made with me in mind. So I started making my own comics, the comics I wanted to read, even though I was absolutely terrible at them! I didn't even know how to draw when I first started making comics. And now here I am 12 years and 1800 comic pages later, making my living as a cartoonist ... it is something of a surprise. 

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By Scoopriches TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 21 2013
Format: Paperback
So, to recap, back in May 2013 while attending TCAF, @Taliana83 hectored me to read some Faith Erin Hicks.

And now I have. Starting with The Adventures of Superhero Girl, and moving along to the excellent Friends With Boys.

And Friends With Boys is a different animal indeed. Canadian storyteller Faith Erin Hicks creates this emotion laden tale with a hint of the supernatural thrown in.

We start with Maggie, a fourteen year girl living in a small town with her three older brothers and her dad. She wakes up scared in the first few pages, all because it is not only her first day in grade nine in a public high school, but also the pain of her mother recently leaving the family is still raw. The absence of the mother, who home schooled all the kids till they reached the magical age of high school, is palpable in those opening pages and permeates the rest of the story.

Terrified by everything new now happening, Maggie slowly makes her way around school, surviving crowds she has never experienced before, gasping at new sights, and slowly learning how to talk to people who are not related to her. She also witnesses her brothers in a different light entirely. Oldest Daniel seems to be friends with virtually everyone and provides the most support to Maggie. Twin brothers Zander and Lloyd constantly fight and argue, but now it feels more personal, less fun.

Into this mix and mess of emotions and turmoil comes something new for Maggie. Friends. A quasi goth brother and sister named Alistair and Lucy, who emit secrets of their own. Pieces of this past slowly dribble to her throughout the story, making Maggie realize how even more complex people are.
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Format: Paperback
I was sent to the website of this webcomic when it was about 70 or 75 pages in'referred, actually, by one of the great masters of webcomics, Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant. I quickly realized it wasn't just a plug for a friend, it was an honest recommendation by an experienced artist. Hicks' "Friends with Boys", which I checked daily for updates after that (it made it onto my very selective list of regularly checked webcomics), always proved a good boost in the morning, a sense of keeping on track with a good friend.

It would actually be more fair not to call it a webcomic but a graphic novel that was first released in installments online. As a graphic novel, then, it's quite good. The art is certainly something to like; it's a pretty simple style, one in which it's always clear what's happening. The author invites you into her view of the world, both idiosyncratic yet refreshingly familiar, so to speak (should I say "realistic"? There are ghosts!). The story, to be honest, didn't pull me in quite so strongly on the level of an overall plot'actually, the ending felt kind of abrupt'but it made up for that largely on the strength of its key pieces, the little digestible conversations and scenes you get to peer in on. Oh, and the characters. They are few, but good, and when they run up against each other it's fun to watch. It's well told in terms of dialogue; Hicks certainly isn't lacking in that accurate sensibility of quirky modern diction, the kind Juno did an embarrassingly bad job of and Scott Pilgrim made me cheer for.

Overall, it's certainly worth a read. Even if it isn't the best graphic novel I've read, it's among the better webcomics. In fact, I'd give it 4 stars in the first category but 5 in the second, and since that's the form I encountered it in, that's what it gets. :p

Besides, it's always good to encourage the brave comic artists'the talented ones, anyway.
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Format: Paperback
Reason for Reading: I enjoy the author/artist and was intrigued that the book was about homeschooled teens.

The author is obviously writing from her own life seeing as she was homeschooled until high school and has three brothers. This is the background of the main character in the book, added to Maggie's life is that her mom has just skipped out on them without her really knowing why and Maggie has been haunted by a 17th century ghost since she was about six. I really enjoyed this book. I think it gave a fairly accurate portrayal of homeschool life though Hicks did treat it like it was the 1990's, not now when it has become pretty much mainstream. (I was homeschooled for high school in the '80s and have been homeschooling my children in one way or another for the last 19 years.)

The title is a little deceptive as I thought we might get into dating and stuff, but it refers to sisters being friends with their brothers and I really appreciated this theme. I don't have any brothers but I really envied the close relationship Maggie had with hers and how the relationship between Lucy and Alistair developed also. The book deals with other typical teen subjects such as being new to a school, dealing with bullies, how to make friends and what it's like when your brother is popular but you are not. Hicks artwork is as expected and truly measures up to her other work making it a delight to look at. The only problem with this could be that she draws her characters very similar and the main two females in this book are almost identical to the two females in "The War at Ellesmere" with different hairdos.

I loved the characters, the story about the teens at school, the family dynamics, etc. but the bit about the ghost haunting was an oddity.
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