Kerstin “Kiwi” Smith (writer), Kurt Lustgarten (writer), Naomi Franquiz (artist), Brittany Peer (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer)
BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Misfit City is my favorite new series from BOOM! Box. The story focuses on a small group of teen girls in a coastal Oregon town made famous by an ‘80’s movie, loosely based on The Goonies. Although outwardly their varied interests make the teens appear to have nothing in common, their shared experience as high schoolers who don’t fit in is what ultimately brings them together as friends.
As is typical for Boom! Studios, the series includes ethnically diverse characters of all shapes and sizes, brought to life by illustrator Naomi Franquiz. Her work reflects reality, with teens that change their hairstyles as frequently as they change their outfits, unlike many artists who are content to leave their characters in the same outfit for decades. The inclusion of Native American, queer character Dylan was a welcomed addition, and something rarely seen in comics.
Every girl brings her own strengths to the group, which is what makes this adventure appeal to a broader audience. Each character is her own person, with friends, a job, special interests, and unique home life. Maybe you identify with one character, or see a little of yourself in each of them. They each have their own endearing traits.
Writers Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Kurt Lustgarten did the groundwork to make this series historically and geographically accurate so that it passes muster with local Northwest residents. The area is known well-known for its oysters, environmentalists, fog, and quick-moving storms. Use of local landmarks, such as Nehalem Bay, pinpoints the geography, as does reference to the Tillamook, the local indigenous tribe woven into the backstory, but a name better recognized as belonging to the famous dairy in the Oregon town of the same name. I applaud that attention to detail, especially when referring to the local Native American tribes.
But it’s the research and analytical approach to problem-solving by the characters, that I truly appreciate. The characters don’t find a map and simply run off on a treasure hunt! They start their quest by doing research in the rare books section of the library. From there we see each person’s individual skills and talents called into play to help the group on their quest, like when Karma’s seance summons the spirit of Black Mary to find the key to solve the cipher. Alone, none of them can begin to unravel the mystery, but by working together, they begin to succeed. This storyline doesn’t make any glaring leaps in logic that you often see, and that’s important. Because comics with empowered female leads are finally becoming accepted as mainstream, and they need to have strong, airtight storylines to stand up against the dynasties. Misfit City does just this, all while staying true to local history, by keeping the clues tied to the Tillamook, using the keyword “Nehalam” (another name for the indigenous people) for the cipher, and having the clues derived, not through a giant leap of intuition, but step-by-step, through library research, interviews, a seance, and physical research of the local area.
At this point, BOOM!Box has released seven of the eight issues planned planned for this series, and I can’t wait to see what the December release (out today!) brings to conclude the treasure hunt. There’s no word yet on whether we’ll see a future story arc for the Misfits. Perhaps we’ll hear something in the new year.
As a kid who was bullied for reasons beyond my control, these characters resonated with me. They helped me find a hero within, as I think they will for others, just like The Goonies did back in the ‘80’s.