It's the summer of 1987 and daddy's girl Shira is spending another summer alone seeing as her social life was ruined by an unfortunate incident with a bar mitzvah cake. Life's okay though, she's best friends with eighty year olds Pearl and Minerva and has her dad all to herself...until he starts dating his secretary. Feeling that her dad is changing for the worse Shira lashes out by shoplifting a scarf only to be spotted by Latino hottie Rafael but instead of turning her in Rafael offers her shoplifting lessons and so begins their flirty and thrilling relationship.
First of all YAY. A mainstream western graphic novel written AND illustrated by women. So it IS possible! More please!
Shira is perfect for Minx's target audience: she's pretty but also gawky, cool but not part of the cool crowd, intelligent, self-aware, melodramatic and very spunky. It's very rare in mainstream graphic novels and most other genre writing for a feisty female character to be so well rounded (and also likeable) and I have to say it's because she's written by a woman. Male writers like Paul Dini, Ross Campbell and Joss Whedon get amazingly close to understanding the female mind (and I love them for it) but then there are people like Steven Moffat who think they write females better than they actually do and those who just don't care as long as the female has big boobs to bounce about. Believe it or not nothing beats a woman for understanding a woman! Or the pains of being a teenage girl (trust me guys there's much more to it that PMS). Alisa understands it perfectly and writes it perfectly, getting just the right balance of fragility and feistiness. She also fills Token with settings and secondary characters that are completely up an intelligent, daydreamy teenage girl's street: the 1980s John Hughes beach setting; a wry, 1940s screen siren, Jewish grandmother best friend and a charming bad boy love interest.
Rafael is hot. Just saying. Joëlle's art is fantastic (more on that later) and she manages to make him practically smoulder. For the first time in all the Minx books I can actually see why the lead falls for the boy. I would. The scene where he catches Shira shoplifting is so loaded! Shira's feistiness combined with Rafael's smoothness leads to some great banter and top notch flirting. Be still my beating heart! Usually I want to vomit when I read / watch a romance but I actually wanted to read Shira's and Rafael's scenes most of all - I wanted to see how their relationship would end considering all the complications connected to it - and I wanted to see them get it on (a bit of vicarious living).
Despite the dream ingredients Token also has a very realistic feel and resolution which I think is to it's credit. Shira's father's secretary is not an evil stepmother stereotype - she's actually really nice - any animosity is purely from Shira and it is up to Shira to realise it. The ending is also not a happily ever after ending. As Batman would say, Shira doesn't get everything she wants but she gets what she needs and when Alisa has been so careful to craft a story and characters with so many layers and dimensions it's the only correct ending there could be.
Now what was I saying about Joëlle's art? IT'S EPIC! It is proper mainstream stuff with all the quality and detail you would expect and see in an issue of Batman or X-Men whilst maintaining a unique and personal style. The characters' expressions are just perfect, very much taking Alisa's writing and running with it. I could look at Joëlle's art all day. It makes me so happy that she is now working with the big comic publishers. I would most definitely love to work with her should I ever get so lucky!
What was that? You want some endearing, perfectly written, perfectly drawn summer romance? Then get yourself a copy of Token!
You'll like Token if you like:
John Hughes' 1980s films, Dirty Dancing, The Lost Boys, Mermaids, Grandma's House, The O.C. and Ocean Waves (I Can Hear the Sea)
Also by Alisa Kwitney:
Till The Fat Lady Sings, The Dominant Blonde, Does She or Doesn't She?, On the Couch, Sex as a Second Language: A Novel, Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold, Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger and Sandman: King of Dreams
Also by Joëlle Jones:
12 Reasons Why I Love Her, You Have Killed Me, Sexy Chix, Shojo Beat, Fables, Popgun, Portland Noir, Madman Atomic Comics #16, Dr. Horrible, Madame Xanadu, Troublemaker, House of Night, The Girl Who Owned a City, Spell Checkers and Ultimate Spider-Man #150