Graphic Novel Review: Pumpkinheads / by Faith Erin Hicks and Rainbow Rowell

I’m back from a long hiatus. I was hoping to be consistently writing reviews on my blog, but… life. Let’s get back into this…shall we!?

pumpkin headsPumpkinheads

story by Rainbow Rowell

art by Faith Erin Hicks

published by First Second

224 pages

978-1626721623

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I recently picked up “Pumpkinheads” from my public library. I was super excited to give this a read as I’m a long-term fan of Faith Erin Hick’s comics. I love her stories, and her art style. So, was thrilled to pick up her newest title. Even after reading this, my favourite is still her title, “The Adventures of Superhero Girl”. It’s just so relate-able, but also just silly fun. I love it a lot.

And, I was doubly intrigued to pick this up as the primary author of this work wasn’t Faith Erin Hicks, but popular YA author Rainbow Rowell.

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I will admit I have less experience reading Rowell’s books. I’ve only read her title “Fan Girl” which wasn’t a favourite. I liked the writing alright, but I just didn’t get along with her characters and the Harry Potter inspired fan fiction that the main character, Cath, spends most of the book writing. I’m one of those rare people who doesn’t like Harry Potter! Ack! I’m almost afraid to admit it because the series is so universally loved. But with elements or an obvious inspiration from a series that I am uninterested in, it pretty much tainted my reading experience. I’m still open to trying others of her works, I just haven’t made the time to do so yet.

I was so curious to see how these two authors would get along in a work. Personally, it’s one of the better prose-author-turned-comic book-author titles I’ve read…ever. Hicks and Rowell are a match made in heaven! Their storytelling style seems very much in-tune with each other, and I was so relieved to see this. I’ve been disappointed so many times when prose authors want to jump into comic book territory when it’s obvious they’ve never read a comic book before. I’m so happy that I didn’t get that impression here — either Rowell has been studying up on her comic books, or Hicks was given enough freedom to draw the story the way it needed to be told.

What it’s about:

(from amazon)

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different―Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if―instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut―they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

This was an adventure. A very bitter-sweet story (more sweet than bitter) about completely love-able teenagers trying to make the most of the time they have left together. While I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch, I can completely understand the sentiment of having a seasonal friend. When I was a child through my teen years I would go to summer camp, where I would spend a week every summer with the same group of friends. These were seasonal best friends that I didn’t talk to outside of summer camp. I still look back fondly on those days and wonder what some of those people are doing.

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Deja in particular was such a great character. She has a head on her shoulders, and seems to know exactly who she is — she exudes confidence. While she is certainly written more complex than this, but in her simplest form she is one of my favourite character types.

Overall, I loved this title.

However, when I’m reading comics that are aimed at children, I always evaluate them in terms of which of my small relatives I could recommend them to. I have several nieces and nephews of varying ages (between 7-15) and I just couldn’t decide who this best fit. I think this had to do with how young the writing feels while also featuring older students who are in their final year of high school. This is really my only complaint about the title.

Hicks’ art is geared toward younger readers, and Rowell’s writing is simple and clear which in prose creates an emotional depth to her stories. In comics though, where the pacing is much faster, it doesn’t have time to develop the emotional depth with this sort of minimalist plot. In turn it creates a too-simple story leading me to believe this is best suited to an 8 or 9 year old. But then, I can’t seem to see myself recommending this to my youngest niece either. I’d rather give this to her cousin, who is just starting high school… but her reading level is too high for this book… So, I’m left puzzled about the audience.

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So, in general I can’t tell you who I’d recommend this for, except that it’s completely adorable, and if you’d like to read an adorable Autumnal themed comic… you should pick this up.

I smiled the entire time.

I can’t wait to see what this duo will do next. But, could I recommend a younger protagonist in the next one? Will makes my Christmas shopping a lot easier!

 


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