I’m going to start this post about Nancy Drew with a little detour:
Bear with me for a minute! I promise, this is in fact a post about Nancy Drew.
I am a Trixie Belden stan. Always have been been. This will probably revisited at some point in this blog, because I’ve got a lot to say about this topic. For those that aren’t up on their mid-century teen sleuths literature (for shame!), Trixie Belden was roughly a contemporary of Nancy’s in the girl detective genre, first published in 1948 and initially written by Julie Campbell. Trixie was 13 years old, lived in rural upstate New York, belonged to a ‘secret’ club with her brothers and neighbors (‘secret’ even though they like, talked about it ALL the time to anyone who would listen), rode horses a lot, and bullheadedly poked her nose into all sorts of mysteries. She also was very tomboyish, hated housework and babysitting, screwed up frequently, had trouble with school, and got frustrated easily. As a kid, I found her FAR more relatable and interesting than Nancy, who was always so put together, polished and sophisticated.
And as far as girl gumshoes go, my girl Trix has far less
lasting popularity basic name recognition than Nancy Drew, which has basically made Miss Drew my very own nemesis. I TAKE IT PERSONALLY, NANCY! When I’m in a used bookstore, browsing the teen sleuth section as one does, looking for a vintage Trixie to add to my collection and all I see are shelf after shelf of Nancy Drews sitting there – mocking me – all I can do is put my nose in the air, sniff “Nancy WHO?!” and leave with my dignity intact (editor’s note – “dignity” is questionable in this scenario). What I’m getting at is that there’s no love lost between me and Nancy. Maybe my interpretation of the original Nancy Drew series isn’t accurate or fair – I haven’t read them much – but Nancy just never captured my imagine as a kid. I did read at least several of her original books, so I have some vague idea of the setup and characters, but I definitely wouldn’t want it to be my final Jeopardy category.
And now, back to our topic!
So, the reason I went on that long diatribe – other than to reveal once again that I am in fact a weirdo who collects obscure old teen detective books – is just to say that I’m not going to be clutching my pearls at the thought of Nancy Drew being updated, modernized, and molded into something new. In fact, I would welcome it. And when I saw that there’s a new Nancy Drew comic series out (Nancy Drew by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, Triona Farrell and Ariana Maher, published by Dynamite Entertainment), with an GORGEOUS cover featuring Nancy et al. looking like badasses, I was excited to give it a read.
And I really enjoyed it!
Warning: I try to avoid any spoilers in the review below, but themes and plot points do get discussed in a general way. If you’re rigorously trying to avoid spoilers for this series, please proceed with caution!
I can get on board with this Nancy. She’s tough, introspective, and wears kick-ass boots (a surefire way to my heart). She’s got her shit under control – she’s the kind of high schooler that has another high schooler acting as her personal assistant. The story starts out with her already an established crime-solving wunderkind – we open with a little caper to retrieve a school mascot – but things quickly gets more serious when Nancy receives an ominous, anonymous letter that appears to be tied to her late mother’s demise and prompts her to return to her hometown after a lengthy absence.
Please Nancy, may I have your boots?
I don’t remember much about the original Nancy Drew series, but even I can see that plenty has been updated for this reboot. In this series, Nancy has lost touch with Bess and George (her best friends and constant sidekicks in the original series) and their reunion is maybe just a little bit prickly, George has a girlfriend, and the Hardy Boys are in-universe pals. I appreciate that they made the cast more inclusive and diverse than the original series, and as I know even less of the OG Hardy Boys than I do OG Nancy, I’m interested in seeing where this crossover goes. Maybe dyed-in-the-wool old-school Nancy fans won’t appreciate the changes made to the source material, but I think they do a great job pulling the story into the 21st century, and the changes let me see this series as something new. I find the art to be really appealing – it’s cute and accessible, but not so cute that the characters seem infantilized or incapable of being smart and capable, and I absolutely love the character designs. I also wanted to note the nifty lil thing they did with the lettering, by putting Nancy’s internal thoughts on lined notebook paper within the panels, which almost makes it feel like we’re reading her diary as she’s thinking to herself. I know that this is the wrong girl detective – there are just so many of them out there – but it reminds me of Harriet the Spy, and that ain’t no bad thing.
WELL, CAN YOU?!
My only real beef at this point is that this is just a single comic book, which feels unbearably short. I wanted more! But I suppose that I’m just going to be patient to continue Nancy’s adventures. OH, THE HUMANITY…!!!
Overall, I’m glad that I put aside my long-held anti-Nancy bias and gave this comic a read. I found it to be a fresh and fun take on the series, and look forwards to seeing where the story goes!
Name: Nancy Drew
Author: Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, Triona Farrell and Ariana Maher
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment (https://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?CAT=DF-Nancy_Drew)
Published Dates: 2018 – present
Status: Ongoing (one comic book published so far, with three more (at the time of writing) slated to be released).
Ages (per publisher): Teen+
All materials belong to their rightful copyright holders. I don’t claim any ownership over any of the content being discussed above – I’m just a fan who wants to share some of her favorites with the world