Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Amelia Rules, What Makes You Happy by Jimmy Gownley

One of our favorite things here at Comics And… is looking at previews. It’s always a source of fun and amusement. But there are lots of books that have been available for a long time that deserve your support. Once such book is Amelia Rules by Jimmy Gownley.

Amelia Rules is the story of an average girl in an average elementary school. Because her parents divorced, she and her mom live with her aunt. Amelia has the typical pack of friends composed of Reggie, the obnoxious boy and love interest, Rhonda, the crabby friend who also loves Reggie, and Pajama Man, the strange boy who always wears pajamas. But, the adventures that Amelia and her friends are anything but ordinary and typical.

This past week I read the second Amelia collection What Makes You Happy collecting six issues of the original comic. The first story involves Valentine’s Day cards and Reggie, Rhonda, and Ameila try to compose the perfect card. Amelia is struggling with trying to find the perfect words to express how she feels about Reggie. She manages to come up with “Dear Reggie, when I think of you I hardly ever get sick” and “When I think of you, my cookies generally remain untossed.” Unfortunately, she decides they are either too mushy or too much of an admission of love for her to use them. Reggie and Rhonda have similar problems of their own. Finally, the three friends, completely miserable because no one can compose a card, meet and deny having even thought about Valentine’s Day. As they stand around, Pajama Man gives each a very simple card which only makes them realize how simple the cards could have been.

In other stories, we learn more about Amelia’s Aunt, a former rock star, and Gownly treats us to a excellent parody of Behind the Music. My personal favorite is a story in which Amelia’s Aunt takes her to visit her father for the weekend.

Gownly is really a master story teller. In a very short amount of time, He managed to completely suck me into Amelia’s universe. He perfectly captures the joys, and pains, of being a young girl. And, even more incredibly, Gownly manages to do the impossible by creating characters and stories that appeal to kids and their parents too.

Each story has a high level of general humor utilizing word play or slapstick which appeals to kids both young and old. At the same time, Gownly puts little bits into each story that are purely for the adults in the audience. For example, when the gang learns that Amelia’s Aunt is a former rock star they are worried that she’s weird because she’s an artist. Reggie explains what artists are: (a) a sellout because they make money, (b) great artist because they are starving, or (c) an artist genius achieved by dying a stupid, preventable death or severing a body part and sending it to a loved one. My daughter thought the Van Gogh reference was kinda gross but I appreciated the humor.

While each story is humorous, there is always a dollop of melodrama to go with it. The best example in this collection is when Amelia goes to visit her father. She is thrilled to see him but at the same time, she is sad because she remembers all the good times when her parents were together. It’s very real and very touching. The whole episode works because the sadness of the serious topic is balanced by the humor on each page. Finally, Gownly’s art fits the stories perfectly. He is equal parts Calvin & Hobbs, Peanuts, and Archie.

I find myself reading Amelia when I want something to cheer me up. I splurged and got the hardcover collection because I plan on having this book on my shelf for a very, very long time. But, if you don’t feel like spending the extra money, there are trade paper backs too. No matter what format you decide upon, you won’t be disappointed by this book.

Visit Amelia at here

1 comment:

  1. Great Review. I LOVE Amelia.

    Just 2 little things:

    It's "Gownley" not "Gownly" and "Pajamaman" not "Pajama Man"