So I have this pile of comics on my guest room dresser that’s all independent-label stuff that I’ve already read. But in curating my collection (i.e., going through what I’ve already read and deciding what to keep), I feel like I need to reread a number of them in order to make a full decision. This starts with All-Nighter, alphabetically the first in the pile.
Published in 2011 by Image, this five-issue miniseries was originally conceived as a graphic novel for DC’s YA line Minx, which was only around for a year and is sometimes mentioned in articles as “ahead of its time” or “late and lamented.” I’ve read one of Minx’s books–Brian Wood’s New York Four (which I eventually offloaded when I learned about his history of grooming and sexual harassment)–and I can see the genesis of what a number of other, smaller companies (including Image) would eventually turn into their bread and butter during the last five or six years while DC retreated into its superhero universes and eventually into the New 52 and Rebirth and whatever Dark Knights Metal and all this other stuff has been. They do seem to be trying this again with superhero-focused YA novels and graphic novels, and I hope that they are more successful this time around. Yes, it’s everything that older fans piss and moan about, but why should DC (and Marvel, tbh) let Image get all of the Scholastic graphic novel readers (at least those who aren’t reading manga)?
ANYWAY … All Nighter reads like something from the early 2010s with punk/emo characters and a look that fits between Blue Monday and Love and Rockets. The story centers around Kit Bradley, a recent high school graduate who is now living on her own and about to attend art school, as well as her roommates and her ex-boyfriend, who is a petty thief and often has her be his partner in crime. Their hangout is an all-night diner, and over the course of the five issues, her and her friends/roommates get another roommate named Martha who is quiet and a little off … and then disappears.
The idea behind All Nighter is to explore that point in a person’s life when they are stuck between adolescence and adulthood, and being that Kit and her friends are sharing a house and not, say, in a dorm at a college, puts them a little more in the real world. And overall, this series does work except for the fact that it’s a little too thin.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed my reread of this series, but I kept comparing it to Tyler Page’s Nothing Better, which I covered on Pop Culture Affidavit a while ago and was a longer-form story about kids that age. In fact, the “nonconformist” character in that one was named Kat … but I don’t think Page and Hahn were taking notes from one another since Nothing Better takes place in the dorms at a college. But Page took time to really develop the characters and their world through what ended up being four volumes of varying length; Hahn gives us 145 pages over five issues that really could have been much more. The characters were certainly interesting but with that little space in which to breathe felt underdeveloped and while the story’s turn in the last two issues was a good one–Martha goes missing and we get a pretty decent “Missing White Woman” story–it all moves too quickly. Had this had room to breathe a little and had our pace been slowed (maybe a 200-250-page overall story, although I know how entitled that makes me sound), I think I would have found it more essential reading.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?
Sell or Donate.