Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 99

Hopeless Savages

by Jen Van Meter, Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Meredith McLaren, etc
Genre notes: family, music, life, romance
4 vols (or 2 if you get the collection of 1-3 and then Hopeless Savages Break)
ISBN: 1934964484 (Amazon)

Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage married and hyphenated. Dirk and Nikki are grown-up-and-settled-down former punk rock legends. Or maybe they’re current legends and former stars. Something like that. In any case, they're middle aged with four Hopeless-Savage offspring (from youngest to oldest), Skank Zero, Twitch Strummer, Arsenal Fierce, and Rat Bastard (all their real names!). The kids ages range from highschool-aged Skank Zero to well-into adulthood Rat Bastard.

Over the course of the series, Van Meter makes marked use of flashback. Every chapter contains a several-page flashback (drawn by a secondary artist so that it’s easily discernible from the main story). These flashbacks not only embellish the current storyline, giving motive to otherwise unexplainable actions, but they serve to give the series a grounding in history. It’s one thing for us to hear that Nikki Savage used to be a wild thing on stage but another to actually see what she was like back then. It’s one thing to know that Rat left the family because of a girl but another to see it play out. These bits and pieces lend credibility to the work. Kind of like how Tolkien’s inclusion of songs and legends helps the realization of his LOTR world.

One of the recurrent themes of Hopeless Savages is family and its essentiality. With the exception of Zero (who is, I believe, a junior in high school at the start of the series), all of Dirk and Nikki’s children are grown and leading their own lives (and generally pretty successfully). Dirk and Nikki are on the verge of being empty-nesters. But far from being on the cusp of a certain lonely liberation, their family is still very close and they spend more time together than many families that share a single roof. For all of the Hopeless-Savage’s anarchic roots, the governance of valuing family rules each of their hearts almost completely. It’s a joy to see—and as a father to young children, I hope to see my life somewhat a mirror to theirs twenty years from now.

Hopeless Savages is an enjoyable series and four volumes is tragically too few for characters who deserve far more. I very much hope Van Meter will eventually return to this creative corner and round out the cast a bit more. And then more. And then more.

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