Lucky Penny, a new graphic novel from Oni Press, is the ironically-titled tale of Penny Brighton, who is a complete and utter human disaster. The story spins out of Johnny Wander, an ongoing webcomic by writer Ananth Hirsh and artist Yuko Ota.
Lucky Penny began as a webcomic in 2012. The print edition collects all of Penny’s misadventures as Penny tries to figure out where to go and what to do after losing her job and her apartment in the same day. The story bears some resemblance to Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series in terms of bumbling, young main characters, but that’s about where the comparison ends. All of the characters are charmingly dorky and relatable, and Penny is unflaggingly optimistic despite her poor luck. Her narrative is chuckling-under-your-breath-in-public funny. We’ve all been Penny at some point or another, where nothing is going right and you get kicked out of your apartment and are forced to live in a storage unit. You know. The usual.
The characters in Lucky Penny work so well because they’re quirky, but the narrative highlights these quirks rather than putting characters down for them. One of her definitive traits is her penchant for reading romance novels, and instead of looking down the nose at her for reading steamy romance, Penny herself celebrates the romance novels (one of two things she inherited from her grandmother, she says) and the other characters do (or learn to) as well.
This novel is appropriate for young adults and up, and readers of all ages will likely find it humorous. It’s a fun, lighthearted read. Readers will be rooting for Penny within the first few pages, because we all know someone with her abysmal luck. This is partly what makes the book so enjoyable–the desire to see Penny succeed, but it’s also in large part due to the visual humor and the art.
Yuko Ota’s art is consistently good throughout the whole book. All of the art is black and white, but the shading gives the characters dimension and the style is very clean. Ota and Hirsh work incredibly well together in terms of storytelling, and it shows in the finished product. All of the characters are wonderfully expressive, giving them another element of relatability.
Lucky Penny is a fast but uplifting read, and readers of all ages will be able to relate to the characters and their respective quirks.
Story: Ananth Hirsh Art: Yuko Ota
Story: 7.5, Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review