A dazzling mystery adventure in glorious colour, featuring the lovable Scarygirl, who is on a quest to find out who she is, where she came from and who her real friends are .
Nathan Jurevicius was born in 1973 in Bordertown, a place made famous for its meat factory and as the birthplace of Bob Hawke. At the age of six he had his first one-man show, selling three pieces, including the legendary 'Woman with a fly on her nose in a phonebox'. Today Nathan is an artist with sell-out shows around the world. Scarygirl is his most popular character so far, with an online comic, artwork and prints, and a range of vinyl toys.
Jurevicius’ graphic novel The Adventures of Scarygirl is a visual treat. The illustrative text is gorgeous throughout as it draws upon differing genres and tropes. The title creates a first impression of the protagonist for the reader as she is cast from gothic and horror archetypes. The stitches in place of her smile is an allusion to Frankenstein’s monster, her sharp teeth and pirate characteristics reinforce her Other status further. The saturation of rich colour throughout the narrative is aimed at engaging its target audience. My daughter (who happens to be in Year 3) snatched this book straight away and read it. Our opinions differed when I asked her about the colour. Her response was that they were cool. I wanted a reprieve from the bombardment of cool colours, in particular I craved white space. This might be an interesting point of discussion with students. A comparison of colour to other graphic novels might prove fruitful too.
Unlike other graphic novels, there is very little written text. My son, said it was like Leaf, by Stephen Michael King. In The Adventures of Scarygirl, the visual text dominates the narrative. However, when the written text appears, our attention is heightened with their presence. Words are primarily used in two ways in this graphic novel: to signify a new section structurally; and the creation of sounds (onomatopoeia). A comparative analysis of the use of the latter in comic books or even the evolution of onomatopoeia in comic books could be useful. The inclusion of other text types is also noteworthy in Jurevicius’ creation. Mathematical sums, mazes, flow diagrams and maps are interesting and familiar ways of engaging his target audience. Other symbols: arrows, light bulbs, exclamation and question marks contribute to the text’s meaning in other ways.
A worthwhile discussion and exercise could involve our normative reading pathways. I would discuss how students read this book after the finished. Having them research different ways of reading that exist now and throughout history could be interesting e.g. hieroglyphics versus Arabic. As an exercise have them read this text from right to left for a short amount of time and discuss what happens to the meaning of the text.
Mark Rafidi, Head of English and Drama, Shoalhaven Anglican School, NSW
Graphic novels have many readers and this one is no different. The bright colours of the cover attract the attention of the reader immediately. The size of the book encourages the reader to carry it around with them and to read any time they get a chance. The reader meets the main character, Scary Girl in the first pages of the story when she is abandoned. She is found by a large octopus named Blister. She doesn’t know her history and the recurring dream she has disturbs her. She needs to find the man in her dreams to answer her questions. The story is her journey to find her past.
The absence of text encourages the reader to view the illustrations carefully to gain as much knowledge about the characters as possible. The use of different colours to signal the change of emotions, scenery and feel of the story is very effective. The use of speech bubbles to convey thoughts instead of text allows the reader to interpret the story. Teachers could use this to develop the student’s ability to infer. The author breaks the novel into three parts. He uses this style like three long chapters separating different parts of the adventure which allows the reader time to reflect on what the previous part of the story was about. The novel would fit into any graphic novel study and would also allow a lot of teaching about how the author uses colour and shape to convey his message. The novel would appeal to a range of readers, both boys and girls and from middle to upper primary.
Roxanne Steenbergen, Windermere Primary School, TAS