Cartoonist: Jimmy Gownley
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix
The YA graphic novel 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up by Jimmy Gownley focuses on an ensemble of students who call themselves The After-School Resistance, lead by a teen named Kirby Finn. But could Finn be hiding a secret, and if so, what does that mean for The Resistance?
A Subversive Sense of Humor
One of the most appealing aspects of 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up is the comic’s sense of humor. Channeling the subversive elements of MAD Magazine, the book takes potshots at adult institutions with aplomb. This element will be integral to some reader’s sensibilities: if the thought of two pages of “hardcore reality check” – that’s Finn shattering grown-up illusions with statements like “Jesus wasn’t white” and “Walt Disney wasn’t frozen” – makes you begin to giggle, this comic is definitely up your alley.
Along these same lines, 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up also possesses a healthy skepticism for authority, embodied by the high school’s clown-haired principal. The extremely appropriately named Principal Cudgel has a perpetual five o’clock shadow that calls to mind a more unkempt Homer Simpson, and the foremost authority figure at Greycliff Academy serves as a perfect foil for Finn’s outlandish antics. Plus, Cudgel he’s drawn in such a way that it’s nearly impossible not to smirk at him any time he appears in a panel.
Lots of Great Allusions
Another charming aspect of 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up are the many allusions it makes. If you were wondering whether the protagonist’s name (not to mention “The Resistance”) is a reference to Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it certainly is. But it isn’t just movies that are referenced: there’s a tip of the hat to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, as well – which sort of makes sense when you consider that Gownley is the co-founder of Kids Love Comics, an organization that emphasizes the important role that graphic novels and comic books can play in improving literacy.
Meanwhile, Gownley’s visuals owe a great debt to Charles Shultz: straightforward and relatively simple characters with oversized comedic reactions. These simple characters are often presented against intricately colored backgrounds or faithfully reproduced screenshots from the internet, creating an interesting visual tension between the characters and their environments.
Plus, the deceptively innocent-looking character designs only add to the effect of the comic’s subversive humor. After all, is there anything better than extremely cute cartoon characters telling a self-important authority figure where to stick it?
An Interesting Twist
By the conclusion of 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, the secret of Finn’s hidden identity has been revealed. While I do not want to spoil the twist by going too deeply into it here, suffice to say that the revelation is interested and unexpected, calling to mind some of the best stories about individuals with essentially benevolent motivations who nevertheless must lie to the people who are closest to them.
However, while it does call to mind these previous stories, it never feels like a rehash of any of them, either (no need don’t worry, Finn does not end up floating face-down in a pool).
7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up is available now!
If you want to read 7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, you don’t need to wait! It’s available now from your local bookstore or library.