Friends With Boys - Page 42

The book that Zander is talking about is, of course, On the Road by Jack  Kerouac. Assigned reading is an unfortunate reality of school, and often you end up dragging yourself through very important works of liturature, hating every minute because it’s assigned reading and you have to get the stupid thing read before tomorrow’s class. And then there are stupid tests on the reading, where you have to remember the names of characters or who did what, y’know, actually prove that you read the book. Ugh.

I remember slogging through The Handmaid’s Tale in college, thinking dark thoughts about Margaret Atwood. Thoughts so dark that I didn’t read another of her books for …. oh, years and years. Then I picked up (very reluctantly, in a fit of complete boredom while stuck at work) Atwood’s take on science fiction, Oryx and Crake. The book surprised me. It didn’t quite grab me the way my favourite books do, but I liked her stark, unique take on the future, and brisk (but still sympathetic) portrayals of abused characters. Then I read the follow up to Oryx and Crake, the sublime The Year of the Flood. I LOVED Year of the Flood. Loooooved it. It was dark but compassionate, about women who survive awful things and the way she spun out her version of the end of mankind … amazing. It’s a book that’s stuck with me for quite a while. And weirdly enough, I still think about The Handmaid’s Tale.  Margaret Atwood also turned out to be a pretty cool lady on twitter, which is pretty awesome. :D

I also remember being very fond of Macbeth in high school. Sure, it was assigned reading, but I had a great English teacher, and as he pointed out, the play was full of awesome stuff like revenge, sex, murder, swordfights, possible zombies/ghosts. Good teachers can make assigned reading not so onerous, so good on them.



22 Responses

  1. Golux says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale is a really bad introduction to Margaret Atwood. There are far better Post-Apocalyptic novels out there that would be a better introduction to the genre.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yeah, I agree. Atwood is really a charming, clever writer and can be very funny when she wants to, but Handmaid’s Tale is just such heavy material. I empathize with her writing it (god knows, there are women confronting situations that the characters in the book face every day in this world), but it’s exhausting reading. A true Important Book, but something you should probably read as an adult, not a teen. Not because of content, but because you’ll appreciate it more once you get a little worldly living behind you.

  2. Katelyn says:

    I was always fortunate enough in high school to have English teachers who could make most assigned reading interesting. :) But I will always remember the day my friend Chantel first joined my 9th grade English class. Our teacher had just passed around copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I could see her eyes widen in dismay. She had already read the book 4 different times at 4 different schools. I felt for her.
    Faith, I have been following your work online for many years now (10+) and your art just keeps getting better. I am loving Friends With Boys and I am loving the fact that I get to look forward to a new page every weekday morning. :) Thank you ! I will be purchasing it when it comes out in February, and I will also try to get my hands on your other published works. Keep up the amazing work ! :D
    (Also, I check your twitter every once in a while, and I couldn’t help but notice that you like to listen to audio books when you are working on comics. I was wondering if you have ever heard of the Kinsey Millhone mystery series by Sue Grafton? I think you would really dig it. )

  3. Craig Oxbrow says:

    On The Road as assigned reading? That surprises this British visitor – we got the annual Shakespeare, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Far From The Madding Crowd (laugh riot). On The Road was the book you read when you went to college, because it was about Travel and Smoking and Shagging and other things people in college were trying to emulate.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      I’ve noticed it varies from school to school. I’d never read Dickens or Hardy until I got to post-secondary, nor have I ever read The Great Gatsby, but I know plenty of others who had those books foisted on them as high schoolers. It probably depends on where you live and whether or not you end up in the advanced classes.

      I actually liked a lot of the duller books my classmates hated, like Brave New World and The Stone Angel … but I was weird. ;)

      There’s a funny riff on reading On The Road in high school in the TV show Freaks and Geeks.

    • staticgirl says:

      I got Wuthering Heights at GCSE, A-Levels and the first year of Uni. Good job it’s my favourite book!

  4. Kelly Dixon says:

    I’m not sure about larger high schools, but in mine most of the good books were reserved for the advanced placement English classes. While the lower English classes were assigned things like Romeo and Juliet the more advanced got to read Metamorphosis, and the Bell Jar, you know the cheery stuff.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Hehe, yeah. Same with my school. Plus I sometimes got additional reading from outside the curriculum because I was one of the good kids (from my teachers’ perspective). ;)

  5. drakanor dream says:

    Yay. You have another comic going on :P … Is D101 in dead tree format yet? Cause I think I need to pick that one up :D

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Nope, never. :) Sorry, you are not the first person to ask about a deadtree D101, but I’ll never put it in print. It’s just too old and the art’s too ugly.

      • drakanor dream says:


      • Gena says:

        … beauty is in the eye of the bee holder! it is not ugly, but can you at least finish putting it into a ebook or pdf format for my kindle???

        This book is awesome? will it go dead tree or ebook after its done posting? I hate relying on the interwebs for rereads… and i cant on my ship to boot.

  6. Michelle B says:

    Oryx and Crake has a follow up novel? Great, yet another thing to add to my reading list :P. I read the first novel in a Science and Literature class in college, and I think I was about the only person in the class to enjoy that one. Same with Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. That class was a great example of required reading that also happens to be really good. I bought most of the books for it through the university bookstore where I could easily sell them back, and every one of them is still in my bookshelf now, several years later. That same bookshelf also contains copies of books that were required reading in various high school English classes that I then bought because I loved them, my favorite being The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston, which I also bought the companion to. I love teachers who choose books that make you branch out into authors you might not have read otherwise, but still greatly enjoy.

    (Side note about an earlier comment: Brave New World was required reading for you? Lucky girl, I didn’t read that one until I was out of school and it’s one of my favorites)

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yeah, Brave New World was grade 11 reading. I remember it because I actually read the whole thing in one sitting, which shocked the teacher. It’s a good book! I think I enjoyed more of my required reading in high school than post-secondary. Things get reeeaally stuffy in college. :P

      • Michelle B says:

        Yeah, aside from that one class which I signed up for specifically for the chance to read science fiction books for credit, I didn’t have much, if any, good required reading in college.

  7. Sally says:

    It’s amazing what a difference a bit of time, or a different context, can do for one’s experience with a book! I had a book in both Grade 11 (at school) and then Grade 12 (via distance ed) – Joy Kogawa’s Obasan – and hated it in Gr 11, but really enjoyed it in Gr 12!

    (So enjoying the comic btw. Really beautiful work <3 )

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Oh man, I remember reading Obasan back in university, I didn’t enjoy it much. And yet … it’s stayed with me, especially the describing language she used. I’d probably appreciate it more now.

      • Sally says:

        It really does have some beautiful language in it! But the first time I read it all I could see was all the disturbing imagery and was like :(
        Makes me think other books I didn’t enjoy could be worth another try…but there’s too much else out there to get to! :)

  8. Emily says:

    I have to read Oryx and Crake this year!
    I fell in love with classics when I read Jane Eyre last year. I enjoyed Animal farm the year before, but it wasn’t a love affair…
    I thank school for assigned readings. There’s so many awesome books I never would have picked up otherwise.

  9. Katy says:

    I had that reaction to Dickens. I, of course, read Great Expectations in High School and hated it. I swore I would never read Dickens again. And then I was stuck in a snow storm with nothing to do by read David Copperfield. I was mad, but as a compulsive reader, I felt compelled. I remember thinking “Oh my God, this is so dumb, everything is so exaggerated, nothing is realistic at all!” And then it hit me…It was funny. He was being funny, and I had missed it completely. No where in High School did anyone ever mention that Dickens was funny.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Haha, I like that story. ^^ I have not yet reached the point in my life where I can go back to reading Dickens and find him funny, but maybe I will someday. ;)

  10. mbround says:

    I read Oryx and Crake first (at a friends suggestion) and found it really difficult to enjoy: every male character was a horrible (or at least terribly flawed) and scientists were profoundly ignorant and immoral… and as a male science student I felt pretty attacked. I did really enjoy Handmaid’s tale though. Thought provoking stuff.

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Friends With Boys, webcomic edition!

Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.

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