Giving It All To Give Your All

Article by, Mariah Senecal

Anyone But Virginia

Writer: Josh Eiserike
Artist: Zoe Crockett
Publisher: Alterna Comics

Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes we choose paths with unforeseeable consequences and we feel obligated to stay on the paths we've chosen. Virginia Patterson is struggling on her current path. She is unhappy with her job, hasn't spoken with her friends in over six years, and barely stays in contact with her family. As a secret government agent, she feels obligated to keep doing what she is doing even though she is unhappy. Zoe Crockett and Josh Eiserike have created a story that tugs on plenty of heartstrings. In addition to exploring the challenges we face as adults, they also explore the challenges superheroes face in a world where they are created and exploited by the government. That’s right. Virginia Patterson, codename “Volcano Girl,” is a government created superhero, and her job is to protect the streets of Chicago. Zoe Crockett (Amazing Forest) does the art for this volume and Josh Eiserike (Anna and Pat) takes care of the writing. Together they have created a unique story that touches on several struggles we must all face, yet they do so with a superhero twist that’ll make you think twice about becoming a vigilante.

Virginia Patterson was a straight-A student, senior class vice president, and co-captain of the girls’ soccer team. She got a full scholarship to Washington University and straight out of college she was recruited into Project Golden America, a government run program that creates super-powered individuals to keep crime rates down. After six years, Virginia is feeling burnt out and alone. Her dissatisfaction with her job is making her performance suffer, and when you’re a superhero with all eyes on you, someone is bound to notice. When she receives a call from an old friend reminding her that as vice president it is partially her responsibility to plan their 10-year high school reunion, her employers jump on an opportunity for her to take a leave of absence. Having spent the last six years working undercover, she has a lot of explaining to do to her old friends, yet her identity must remain a secret. Virginia’s struggles as a superhero are not unlike her struggles as an adult, but the fact that she cannot tell anyone what she does is difficult for her. Imagine having a job where you put yourself in harms way for others, and you are constantly facing backlash from the press, yet you don’t have a soul to talk to. Being a public figure with a secret identity means zero privacy while also being completely isolated from the ones you love. The story flashes between Virginia’s present struggles and her memories of when life was very different and these flashes allow us to see how she has changed over the last ten years.

Eiserike certainly has a way with words, and he uses plenty of them. Although some may not like this, I personally love it! I rely heavily on words, which is why I was slow to like comics. Take the best bits, the most descriptive bits, and only use a bubble of space to express them; you need to be skilled to do it well. My favorite aspect of this story is the way Eiserike jumps between the past and the present. I am fond of these flashes because of the added character development and I really think it works well with this story. As Virginia is planning her 10-year high school reunion it only makes sense that she would revisit old memories as well. There is so much depth to this story in such a small space, and the struggles Eiserike writes of are familiar to most individuals in their mid to late twenties. This story is the perfect amount of real and fictional. The superhero aspect adds an interesting twist and spares it from becoming too cliche.

Zoe Crockett’s style of cartooning is expressive with some heavy line work and lots of shading. It looks to be primarily pencil and the lack of color doesn’t detract from the story. I particularly love how Crockett’s facial expressions aren’t just expressive, they’re dramatic, which perfectly suits Eiserike’s style of writing. Crockett also does some interesting things with perspective. Although the majority of her panels are drawn from the third person limited perspective, a few of them are actually drawn from the first person. I found this to be unique and it really draws attention to those specific panels. Without giving too much away, my favorite aspects of Crockett’s art are the action sequences. I like the way you can see and feel the movement, and this is crucial because these characters are always in motion. Between partying teens, and crime fighting superheroes, there are very few slow things in this graphic novel.

To say that I really enjoyed Anyone but Virginia would be an understatement. It really hit home for me, I’m not saying I’m a superhero, but like any person in their twenties I am beginning to really experience the harsh realities of the real world. Virginia finds herself in a position where she is unhappy, and she has also completely isolated herself from her friends and family. Going home to plan her reunion allowed her to gain necessary insight on her life, and ultimately she realized that no matter what situation she is in, she always has the power to change it. This graphic novel has a little bit of everything and I would certainly recommend giving it a read. Anyone but Virginia (The full graphic novel) was published on May 15th 2015 by Alterna Comics and is very accessible on Amazon and Comixology.

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