Emiko Superstar is written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Steve Rolston. It is the latest of the Minx line that I have read, and while it is not my least favorite of the line, I probably won't be buying it (I borrowed it from the library). The art grew on me. I didn't care for it at first, but I got past that quickly, and ended up liking it more than I thought I would. Everyone has different tastes, so I am not suggesting the art is bad. I never thought it was bad, but some styles apeal more than others to me, and some grow on me over time, and some are just like brick walls in the way of my enjoying a comic (I feel this way about the art of one of the current big two rising superstar artists right now... but that is for another post).
The writing is ok, but I don't like the story. I'm not sure what I want from it, but it doesn't deliver in a way I think it should, and some of it borders on unlikable (without a hook that makes you feel that being unlikable is half the point.) I think the issue might not seem so pronounced to me if there weren't so many things going on in the book. What is this about? Is it about the geek coming into her own as an artist? Learning to feel comfortable in her own skin? Is it about the sense of breaking in to new and magical world? Is it about relationships and... betrayals? Is it about rebellion? Is it about how friendships change? Is it some anolog of Andy Warhol's heyday in the sixties? The answer is kind of and not really to all of those, and probably more.
I think all of this could have been accomplished. I think some of it was, but in way less detail than I would liked to have seen it. I guess I didn't find the characters to be sympathetic. I guess I found the view of art and performance and 'rebellion' that was presented in the 'Janes' books to be more compelling than the look at me punk aesthetic with beer that is central to the whole scene that is shown in this book.
Emiko is a geek and isn't satisfied with that. Emi sees one of those people who seems to exist outside of reality running through a mall tossing flyers around. That is what she wants to be. A look at me punk artist. She makes a goal out of performing at a 'punk art' club where half the performers use food in their acts and the others seem to be shocking or mysterious. To gain her entrance there, she develops an act based on a very personal diary she is sneaking into at the home of the people she is babysitting for. Her act seems to consist solely of her reading or speaking the entries as written. The nice young suburban mom with the droolly baby and the asshole husband is a secret lesbian!! and the edgy and deep act that Emiko has really is just her wearing a retro dress of her cool Grandmother, and reading this lady's private thoughts .
I just can't get into it. There are a lot of great potential points in this book that if given more attention would really flesh things out in a way that I think would strengthen it, we don't really get those, so it is like a slice of life, moment in time thing rather than a fully realized story in my opinion. I don't think it is awful. It may not even be bad at all, but I don't love it. I understand that I am a nearly 40 year old guy, and it could be argued that I am not the demographic a line of books marketed to teen girls is looking for... But I think this reads like something trying to appeal to that demographic, but missing the boat on a truth about marketing to people that want to read this format, which is... write good stories that don't pander.