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Faith Erin Hicks' Friends With Boys is available for your rabid consumption this week

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Look familiar? - FAITH ERIN HICKS

If you’ve been enjoying Faith Erin Hicks’ webcomic Friends With Boys in carefully meted out daily installments online, you’re lucky. Friends With Boys is being released in its entirety in graphic novel form February 28 through First Second Books (Strange Adventures book signing on March 3, 2-4pm) and it’s very hard not to devour the book in one sitting, and suffer that post-book melancholy.

Packed with teens figuring shit out, ghosts, bullies, friendly punks and sibling rivalries, the novel hits squarely on the awkwardness and fear of teendom. “I used my own life as a jumping off point for Friends With Boys—I was homeschooled until high school, I have three brothers—but nothing in the book is literally true,” says Hicks. “Some of the book is emotionally true, like Maggie's panic over starting public high school, and her grief over her parents' separation.”

Hicks—whose Superhero Girl comic is featured weekly in the Coast—drew on Halifax for visual inspiration for her third book.

“The sneaky, 'this town is inspired by Halifax, but isn't really Halifax' stuff was initially meant as an in-joke, something to show my friends. But when I started drawing the comic, the look of Halifax added a lot to it,” says Hicks. “Halifax is a pretty odd looking city; ancient graveyards on the same street as The Second Cup, this layering of old seaside city beneath the modern one. It's very evocative, very striking, especially to someone from the suburbs of southern Ontario.”

Friends With Boys started out as a pitch for DC Comic’s now defunct Minx, an imprint geared towards young female comic fans. Unfortunately, Minx folded after only a year and half, leaving a lot of folks skeptical about the importance female readers for the majors. “North American comics are becoming incredibly diverse, so much more so than they were even 10 years ago,” Hicks says. “As a young female comic book reader, I actually feel quite catered to. But when I talk about the diversity of ‘comics,’ I include all comics, from webcomics to manga to book publishers with graphic novel imprints. I do not feel catered to by superhero comic publishers, which to a lot of people is 'all comics,' a misperception I'd very much like to correct.”

Hicks’ clear style opens the door for many types of readers, and her love of the genre is evident. “I just make comics that I'd enjoy reading.” Hicks says. “I always want to make comics that are accessible and easy to follow, that wouldn't intimidate a reader of any age who isn't familiar with the language of comics.”

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