Written by Sarah Kinney
Illustrated by Stan Goldberg
Letters by Tom Orzechowski
Colours by Laurie E. Smith
Associate Editing by Michael Petranek
Editing in chieferizing by Jim Salicrup
Published by Papercutz
the three cents.
The second graphic novella-sized issue (a staple for Papercutz) of the new Nancy Drew series continues its offbeat sleuthing as the young girl and her classmates attend an art museum for the day as a class field-trip. But the Clue Crew trio of Nancy and her friends George and Bess take little time in stumbling into a new mystery concerning the sand art exhibit soon to finish up. The employment of a well-meaning custodian is on the line, as some unseen hand has scattered a sizable portion of the mandala.
With this issue Kinney takes over the full writing chores, and she does a very commendable effort in portraying this younger Nancy and the colorful cast of many characters that surround her. This is more the case of piecing together strange circumstances rather than an actual mystery, but it is just the right dilemma for a pack of highly literate grade school girls to resolve. The story actually works well on several levels, as the Buddhist monk befriends the girls and introduces them (and the readers) to aspects of his faith running alongside the core thread of ascertaining the damage to the art while working around the bothersome curator. The verbal interplay between Nancy and the old man is especially fun and ironic, with the girl oblivious to how obnoxious her good intentions can present themselves as being. There are a great many humorous moments in the story, and engaging dialogue is certainly a skill for Kinney.
Goldberg, busy though he is, seems to really be applying a lot of effort to set this book apart visually from his massive catalog of previous work, as well as anything else currently on the newsstands. I see this most in how he is drawing the faces now, but also in how the scenes are given an increasingly three-dimensional feel in structuring. And as this chapter’s narrative is set in a museum, he fills the backgrounds with layers of candy for the eyes, casually using his expert line work to give energetic forms and figures to this world while maintaining a thorough consistency rarely if ever matched in too many other comics today. This man innovates more than kids a third his age, and makes it look so easy! Smith as well fully exploits the setting of the story, working in a variety of effects to make the pages even prettier than Goldberg’s layouts and execution pull off. This is a great team, and with the always solid Tom Orz completing the picture this series just looks and reads marvelously.
The premise for this series is a younger Nancy Drew, modernized. But as ever these stories have a timeless quality, and keep a fun pace and very appealing artwork that altogether tell the tales well. These characters have their rambunctious side, but it never comes across in the “parents are so uncool” way. Even more, these characters do rely on their smarts to resolve conflicts, which is always a wonderful message to pass on.