A graphic novel by BeKa & art by Camille Méhu
Sometimes folks see a kid in class having issues and write them off as a problem, perhaps somebody to avoid, or basically an irredeemable case. Usually nobody takes the time to approach that person and see what makes them tick, perhaps find out why they are the way that they are. That is surprisingly the opposite of what we see in Europe Comics‘ new book, The Misfits Club for Girls – Book 1 Paloma by BeKa and Camille Méhu. A young woman named Chelonia has noticed that a number of girls at her school are “misfits” for lack of a better term. They get bullied, preyed on, or try to avoid everyone else. She wants to put them together to build the comradery that other girls at their school have, since most basically have no friends to speak of. Everyone seems somewhat excited except one girl that wants to just be left alone. Paloma is a troubled case – bounced around in the foster system, she has trust issues and is VERY antisocial. She rejects the club out-right, but the Misfits Club won’t let that stand – they will get Paloma to accept them, no matter what!
“Four high school girls who have problems fitting in decide to join forces and form their own club, which they feel will empower them to better face the world and their own individual problems. Their first goal is to get girl No. 5 to join them: Paloma, a troubled and anti-social teenager who’s lived in more than fifteen foster homes since she was six. But before the Misfits can welcome Paloma into the fold, they must first get her to confront her difficult and tragic past.”
The artwork reminds me a lot of Japanese Manga surprisingly, especially some of the stuff from Studio Ghibli (the company that made such films as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away etc.) with just a slight bit more minimalism to how they normally do things. I’m not sure if that is intentional or not, but the influence is definitely there. Granted, this isn’t a lush fantasy epic, as they normally would do – but a “slice of life” book with a lot of heart. From the very get-go Paloma is not a very likeable character – we see her push everyone away for a long time until the right group of friends FINALLY try to figure out why she is so anti-social, and eventually helps her out. In a lot of ways it reminds me a bit of another comic that Europe Comics put out earlier in the year called Elle(s), which I also enjoyed. That book was more about dealing with mental health, but in a way this is somewhat similar.
While Paloma’s story comes to a point where her main conflict is resolved, we have four other girls dealing with issues that I assume will also get a story-arc to develop in future books. One girl never talks, perhaps we’ll find out why. One has issues with her sexuality, another has been bullied due to hers, and finally the enigmatic leader who brought everyone together. Her home life seems off somehow, but we’re not sure yet why. I’m hoping I will have a chance to read future installments, as I’ve enjoyed this one quite a bit. This is a broad comparison, but if you like “slice of life” drama manga or anime, this would be a surprisingly good choice for you – I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised when I finished it up.
If you want more information on this book, including purchase links, click HERE
NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.