Have you ever wished to travel to the late 1990s to be part of a secret vigilante feminist fight club based out of a record store?
If you’re anything like me, the answer is “Yes, how did you know? Wait, are you spying on me?!” That is how I felt reading Heavy Vinyl, written by Carly Usdin, and illustrated by Nina Vakueva, Irene Floeres and Rebecca Nalty.
Who wrote it?
Heavy Vinyl is Carly Usdin’s first comic series. She has primarily worked as a writer, producer, director, and editor in various projects, including the YouTube channel YouTube Nation and the award winning indie film Suicide Kale. Find out more at http://carlyusdin.com/
What’s It About?
Heavy Vinyl follows Chris, a slightly awkward high school student who has just landed her dream job in her local record store, Vinyl Destination. Chris feels slightly out of place, as each of the other employees seem to have themselves figured out. Dolores is the resident goth, Maggie is the cute one who likes everything, Kennedy is a music encyclopedia, and Irene, the store manager is a cool adult. Heavy Vinyl is not just about Chris’ journey of self-discovery. When Rosie Riot, the lead singer of Chris’ favorite band Stegosaur goes missing, Chris learns a secret about the Vinyl Destination staff that will change her life. After hours, the staff forms a vigilante feminist fight club!
Why Should I Read It?
Did you not just read “vigilante feminist fight club?” That was all I needed to know to add it to my TBR list. Besides a great feminist message and teenage girls offering sweet kicks of justice, Heavy Vinyl has much more to offer. Heavy Vinyl offers a great view of healthy female friendships, instead of sniping and backstabbing that is all too present in stories about teenage girls. Though the characters may have some differences, they are able to talk through them and come to agreements. There is a good amount of romance as well, including great LGBTQ+ representation. Chris has a giant crush on Maggie, Kennedy and her boyfriend Logan have a sweet, healthy relationship, and I’m dying to see more of Irene’s partner and their adorable dog Buckley. Finally, since this is set in 1998, there are references made to sweet, sweet 90s music. I especially appreciated the title page art that recreate iconic album covers of that time, including the first cd I owned, Spice by The Spice Girls. Vol 1 collects issues 1-4, and I couldn’t find when issue 5 is coming out, but I can’t wait to read it!
The first title that came to mind while reading Heavy Vinyl was Slam! by Pamela Ribbon, Veronica Fish, and Brittany Peer. Slam! is a super fun look into the world of roller derby, and the great female friendship and sense of community that are found in Heavy Vinyl are also found there. Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Teiman, and Max Sarin, follows three friends as they go to university, and it too is full of great female friendships and lots of laughs. All three of these titles are published by BOOM! Box, who also publishes Lumberjanes and Goldie Vance, which are excellent. What I’m saying is, go to your local comic book store or library and just request everything they put out. You’re welcome.
Side note about comic creation: You might be asking yourself “Why are so many people credited for this comic?” Unlike traditional novels, comics are often a collaborative process. So far, all the comics I’ve covered are drawn and illustrated by the same person. However, traditionally, multiple people do the art for comics, with the responsibility for the art shared between three people: the penciler, the inker, and the colorer. You can read more about what each of these roles does, along with lots of other comic lingo here:
Elizabeth Weislak is a youth services librarian who is passionate about readers advisory. She loves art museums, breakfast foods, cheese, dogs, early literacy, and feminism. An enthusiastic morning person, she can frequently be found pestering her family and friends to read her latest favorite book.