“ 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
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.
A Q&A WITH FRIENDS WITH BOYS AUTHOR FAITH ERIN HICKS
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.