I’m a consummate nerd, so I’m always on the lookout for comics and good manga. Muse Mama Teresa Bass suggested Misfit City, and I started on it eagerly. One of my favorite things about this comic is how evocative it is regarding ‘80s pop culture – without being outdated. The characters are dimensional, unique, and current. They dress, speak, and look like us. And as a former reader of vintage Betty and Veronica, and even more vintage Katy Keene, I thought that was really refreshing.
Wilder, Karma, Macy, Dot, and Ed are a tight group of friends living in a small town in the Pacific Northwestern United States. Several decades prior, a cult classic was filmed in their village, Cabot Cove, and not much has happened since. The movie in question is meant to evoke The Goonies, which includes pirates, treasure, mystery, and good clean fun. And, historically, a shit ton of exclusively male characters. But not this time.
In Misfit City Issue #1, just as in its cinematic inspiration, an ancient treasure map comes to light. Macy, who works at the Canon Cove Film Museum, finds it at home among the already copious piles of junk. But is that where it will stay? DUN DUN DUN!!!!
Creators Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde) and Kurt Lustgarten try to make the exposition as natural and succinct as possible. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith said, “There’s a slight love of ’80s movies in all their different forms… for a lot of these movies, I didn’t really respond as much because they didn’t have enough female representation. So I wasn’t into them.” She’s clearly doing some remodeling. Lustgarten adds that, in his experience, the prospect of adventure is so alluring to boys that they jump in, no questions asked. Writing an adventure story that revolves around women is more challenging and rewarding for him because of the characters’ elevated maturity.
And these women characters in particular are compelling; no Mary Sues here! Their friendships are written with depth and feel very real. They have habits, preferences, pet peeves. It’s impressive, frankly, to achieve that level of worldbuilding and character development in a 30-page graphic novel.
I’m excited. Misfit City is a comic for us. For today. Everything has changed; the mode of delivery, the type of story, and especially the style. I subscribe to a couple of digital comic delivery services, and there’s some wonderful stuff being written and drawn that too many people don’t see. Let’s support these writers and artists!