Friday, September 4, 2009

The Internet Will Eat You

by Aaron Alexovich
New York, NY : Minx (DC Comics), 2007

Kimmie66 is a fantastic little graphic novel that blends elements of cyberpunk, goth and various internet cultures, narrated by Telly Kade, a fourteen year old girl from the 23rd Century.

Telly, like everyone else from her time, spends almost all of her time in a lair - one of the many immersive virtual worlds where people work, play and socialize in the future. The lairs are strangely familiar reflections of modern Internet subcultures, structured to their aesthetic tastes. Telly's own lair of choice is a vision of the collective modern Gothic id; a fusion of Victorian and industrial influences. (Full disclosure: I would probably live there, too.) Her story begins when her best friend, Kimmie66, sends her a suicide note - and then starts making appearances in all the lairs, haunting the virtual world.

Like all good cyberpunk (and all good YA fiction), Kimmie66 is loaded with social commentary and the exploration of identity in an age of technology-enabled anonymity. In searching for the truth about Kimmie, Telly is faced with the realization that she truly knows less than nothing about the girl she thinks of as her best friend. She also confronts a society rigidly divided into isolated cliques and clubs, when travel between social circles isn't simply frowned upon - it's forbidden. Telly herself is already a rebel in this sense; the first scene we see is her travelling between isolated groups, looking for her friend Nekokat ("cat cat") to share the grim news. Telly is an explorer at heart, which is really what the story is about, incidental to the plot.

Aaron Alexovich's art may seem familiar: this is because he worked on Invader Zim (one of the all-time best subversive cartoons) with Jhonen Vasques (that name again...) and, more recently, contributed character designs for Avatar: the Last Airbender. The blurb on the back of the book describes his hallmark style as "spookycute", which very much applies to Kimmie66, which sports the most adorable ghost-bleeding-from-her-eyes scene ever. Find it, read it, love it.

A note about the publisher - we'll probably see a lot of their work here on SB/SC. Minx is an imprint of geekery giant DC Comics, specializing in graphic novels for teenage girls. Many of these stories are simply amazing, and a good number of them are qualifiers for Spooky Books treatment.

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