This issue of Local takes a break from the story of Megan’s travels around North America and looks in on her cousin Nicky in Tempe, Arizona. Nicky is a high school kid who’s into partying, skateboarding and making trouble. But Nicky’s kind of an idiot. He does stupid things, makes the wrong choices, and always seems to have people mad at him. In the end, his own idiocy spells his doom, and it’s kind of hard to feel sympathy for the kid.
Nicky is a suburban kid from a middle-class family. Like lots of kids, he’s angry. Angry at his parents, angry at the world, just full of unfocused teenage anger at the world around him. Never mind that mom and dad probably bought him his skateboard, and that his Black Flag shirt might have been a present they bought him at the local mall. Nicky’s just one of those kids who wants to hang out with his friends, have a few beers, and maybe smash a few mailboxes just for fun. The only thing that breaks Nicky from his life is the postcards that Megan sends him from her travels. They seem to represent an escape for Nicky, but in the end they simply seem to deepen his depression and frustration even more.
Nicky’s really kind of an idiot. He does crazy stuff like throwing beer bottles at couples that are hooking up, pisses in the trash, and even kisses a girl when his mouth is filled with vomit. In other words, he’s pretty much unlikeable. He is, however, someone a reader can relate to. Who didn’t do stupid things when they were in high school? Who didn’t make the wrong decisions? The problem is that Nicky never really knows when to stop his craziness. He’s ruled by his impulses as much as by his hormones, so he feels in some ways like a kid who never grew up, the quintessential immature brat who never got disciplined about his life.
I think the thing I enjoyed most about this comic is how writer Brian Wood portrays things. There’s no judgment in Wood’s writing. Instead, the comic is shown as a kind of documentary, simply detailing the experiences that Nicky gets himself caught in. Readers are left to interpret Nicky’s life however we choose. This isn’t the preachy “very special episode of Blossom“; this is simply a portrait of a kid’s life as he screws it up.
I really enjoyed the way Ryan Kelly draws Nicky. Nicky always seems to be thinking about his plans and how to get ahead, but he always seems off somehow, like a kid who thinks he has all the answers but actually has no clue. He’s a classic screw-up on every level, and we get that as much from the way Kelly drawn Nicky as from Nicky’s actions.
This is hardly a cheerful issue – the final page is pretty damn devastating – but it’s a great little docudrama about a kid who just can’t stop himself from screwing up.