Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book
The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro – eBook (Review Copy), 154 pages – Published November 14th 2012 by Animal Media Group
This is a relatively short book, though it’s long for a single comic/graphic novel. It’s pretty different to the other comics I’ve read – there is no epic fight scene, no caped vigilante. But there is a hero, and there is one epic battle.
The general plot involves four teenagers coming together to compete in a “Battle of the Bands” competition. Danny and Tom are good friends already, often jamming out together in Tom’s garage. But they can’t win a competition as just a duo – it’s time to recruit new musicians.
The kids they find end up being Tom’s childhood friend, Mark, and the strange new kid, Jacoby. They start forming a strong bond, until Danny voices his concerns about Mark and his different crew of friends.
Jacoby eventually opens up to the band about his personal problems, too. They never would have guessed what incredible war he’s been fighting in secret. But he’s their friend, and they’re more motivated than ever to practice hard and win the competition.
The art is pretty simplistic, without any colour. Each chapter features “Recommended Listening” which is a great touch for music fans. And I really like both the conflict between Mark’s new ‘popular’ friends and the band, and the huge weight that Jacoby is carrying. The ending is bittersweet, realistic. But I did notice that the issue with Mark and his mates is not resolved, which is kind of annoying.
This is a really refreshing story, confronting an issue that is all too real for many young people. It doesn’t sugarcoat it, but it doesn’t make it sound like hell, either. It’s just honest, and I think that’s really good.
It does provoke some emotion which is fantastic, but I didn’t feel much connection with the individual characters on the whole. And the plot is… meh. I like that it’s about Jacoby’s illness and him wanting to carry on despite it, but I also feel like it dominates the story a bit too much. Like, the illness has become his identity, taken over the whole story. It’s good to focus on it, of course, but I’m not sure it should’ve been the only plot.
I think about 3.5 stars is appropriate for this. It’s different, honest, and great for any music fans.
If you wanna check it out, it’s available on Amazon here.