Needle & Thread
Written by: David Pinckney
Illustrated by: Ennun Ana Iurov
Lettered by: Micah Myers
Published by: Maverick
Needle & Thread is the first offering from Maverick, the new YA imprint from Mad Cave Studios, and while it can’t be easy to be first, this charming graphic novel makes it look effortless. Needle & Thread is a graphic novel that boasts an engaging aesthetic and a sensitive slice-of-life style story (that nevertheless has a surprising number of superhero references).
When I heard that Needle & Thread would be about cosplayers, I imagined a specific type of narrative; however, the graphic novel subverted my expectations by being centered not on the cosplay itself, but rather on the way this activity becomes the medium for the relationship between Noah and Azarie.
The two characters are in their senior year of high school, and in spite of the fact that they each have very different home lives, they’re both unsure about what the future may hold. While it is clear that they each have an idea of what they’d like to do, the overbearing expectations of their parents are omnipresent.
This conflict between the generations is the primary thematic concern of the book, and Needle & Thread never does it the disservice of presenting it as an easy decision (even if you can probably guess how the conflict eventually turns out). Furthermore, having both Noah and Azarie’s parents both be somewhat disapproving of their children’s respective career paths could have felt redundant, but the story does an excellent job of giving each set of parents distinct objections.
As is the case with many YA graphic novels, this one incorporates cell phone telephones into the narrative. In fact, Needle & Thread establishes its own internal language based around cellular communication: each chapter opens with a different character’s mobile device, with the trending topics and notifications giving you an idea of whose perspective will be favored when the chapter begins.
However, while Needle & Thread does utilize this internal language, it never relies too heavily on these “cellular conventions,” allowing the interpersonal relationships to take center stage.
When asked about which ancillary character was their favorite in a recent Transmissions from the Cave stream on Twitch, both Pinckney and Iurov answered “Hiroki.” This supporting cast member has an appetite to match Jughead’s, but in comparison to Riverdale’s resident burger black hole, Hiroki is much less antisocial, practically begging his friend Noah to join him at local parties throughout the book.
Let’s just say that by the time Hiroki and Noah use a pair of chicken biscuits to “cheers,” you’ll understand why both creators are so eager to revisit this character – and you’ll very likely be hoping to revisit this charismatic character yourself!
Stitching It Together
Needle & Thread is a successful graphic novel no matter what angle you approach it from!
Pinckney’s writing offers interesting interpersonal conflicts and an engaging look at the intersection of the public and the personal. Meanwhile, Iurov’s artwork is perfectly suited to costumes and expressions, both integral aspects of this emotional story with an emphasis on clothing. And whether representing verbal dialogue or cell phone text, the lettering by Myers is noticeably superb throughout.
Needle & Thread
With a lovely aesthetic, an engaging story, and a supporting cast that’s just as interested as the leads, Needle & Thread is an unique graphic novel that carries an important and timeless message.
Needle & Thread is available today at a bookstore or public library near you.