Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
This 2013 comic about high school rivalries between cheerleaders and the robotics club should appeal to YA and shoujou manga fans.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a 2013 graphic novel written by debut author Prudence Shen and illustrated by webcomic Demonology 101 artist, Faith Erin Hicks.
‘Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong’, the graphic novel by Shen and Hicks. Read the first 23 pages for free.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong chronicles the misadventure of easy-going athletic star, Charlie Nolan, and his neurotic, robot-obsessed neighbour, Nate Harding, as they’re pitted against each other in the student council elections by the cheerleading squad and robotics club. Charlie’s ex-girlfriend wants to use his popularity to help win the team new uniforms, while Nate is desperate to win the much-needed money to attend the national robotics competition.
Charlie is caught between his friendship with Nate, pressure from the squad, and his general inability to care about the situation when he has more important things to worry about – like his estranged mother’s inopportune phone calls or his distant father’s repetitive attempts to socialize. When pranks and political displays gone awry crush their plans, Charlie, Nate, the cheerleaders, and the robotics club must team up and work together to get what they want most.
This graphic novel gently pokes fun at coming of age stories while simultaneously keeping with the young adult genre. A light and easy-going read, this comic can quickly be consumed in one sitting or picked up multiple times without worrying about losing plot details. While Charlie and Nate are both likeable characters, the cheerleaders and robotics club members lack any identity outside of their respective groups. It’s easy to say that this is a stylistic choice as the tendency to dismiss people based upon their social group is a very common high-school experience (and the novel does give the reader a gentle nudge and a smile as it plays upon this at the end) but it didn’t stop me from wanting more.
The illustrations feature heavily-lined characters against lightly lined and shaded backgrounds in a style reminiscent of other popular Western graphic novels like Scott Pilgrim or Persepolis. Hicks’ use of detail makes individual characters easy to recognize and helps produce a wide range of emotions through only a few panels. One thing that stood out to me in particular was Hicks’ ability to keep consistent styles and outfits that reflected the characters’ taste over the course of the story. The characters looked like people, not stereotypes: the cheerleaders had actual clothes and existed outside of their uniforms while the robotics club was happily absent of pocket-protectors and suspenders.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did feel like there could have been more angst between Charlie and Nolan as their friendship was tested, but at the same time having things work out between them meant the story could progress quickly. This is a quick, light read that I’d recommend to fans of contemporary web comics and YA readers who have never dabbled in comic books before. Fans of shoujou manga may appreciate Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong’s light humour, domestic setting, and robotic battles, but will be likely to find the lack of interpersonal conflict disappointing.
You can read the first 23 pages free online at the Official Website and decide for yourself before supporting your local library or purchasing the book.