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Archie Wears Combat Boots

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“It was basically exaggerating and manipulating a lot of thosestories from when I was in school and my friends and how obnoxiousthey were.

— Chynna Clugston-Major, comic book artist

Art begets art. And though rock ‘n’ roll and comic books may seemto be two mediums far removed from one another, comic artist ChynnaClugston-Major has built a career linking them.

Clugston-Major is best known for the acclaimed, recurringmini-series Blue Monday (Oni Press), which chronicles the early-’90shigh school adventures of Bleu Finnegan and her gang of misfitfriends.

Blue Monday, which takes its name from a New Order song, has beendescribed by it’s creator as “Archie on crack, with cursing andsmokes,” which is an adequate description, though the differences arepronounced. For one, it’s told from the female perspective, and Bettyand Veronica are replaced by heroine Bleu and her best friend Clover,a punk-as-f**k Irish girl with a penchant for ass-kicking and cursingin Gaelic. Also, Clugston-Major’s drawing style is heavily influencedby Japanese Manga art (imagine Robotec, or even Pokemon).

Archie and Jughead’s counterparts are the girls’ sometime allies,sometime enemies, Victor and Alan, a pair of mods who like to watch– in other words, they are peeping Tom’s.

Clugston-Major,a 26-year-old resident of North County, bases much of the action onher own high school years in Fresno (“Fresburger” in Bleu’s world).Both heroines are largely based on herself.

“I would say I am closer to Clover,” Clugston-Major said. ” Ithink Bleu is me mellowed out, but when I get pissed off I’m morelike Clover . I’m highly irritable so, just less now, but I was a lotworse in high school. I guess it’s harder to control it when you’re ateenager.”

Clugston-Major, a self-proclaimed mod and music fanatic who sharesobsessions with Paul Weller and Adam Ant with her main character,infuses her passion for music into the comic, most notably by theinsertion of soundtrack suggestions — she actually notes the musicshe suggests to accompany certain panels and segments, giving thecomic a feel best compared to classic ’80s teen films, ala JohnHughes.

Bleu Finnegan first appeared in print a few years ago, but thecharacters have existed in Clugston-Major’s mind much longer.

“I created Bleu Finnagan when I was 16 and Clover came alongshortly after,” she said. “Pretty soon I had developed the rest ofthem. I mean, they were all kind of there, I just had to figure outhow I wanted to present them.

“It was basically exaggerating and manipulating a lot of thosestories from when I was in school and my friends and how obnoxiousthey were. It’s a pretty safe bet to say there is truth in a lot ofthe stories. I mean I had get it from somewhere.

“Particularly the girls I hang out with, like when Bleu and Cloverwalk together and people call them dikes. That always used to happento them in high school, because they had short hair and wore DocMartens or something.”

Fixes for Blue Monday fans are few and far between. Thus far,Clugston-Major has completed two four-issue mini-series, the mostrecent of which, Blue Monday: Absolute Beginners, ran last year. Bothare now available in trade paperback form.

“Blue Monday is continual,” she said.

“We will keep it as a mini series — it is just smarter and betterthat way. We don’t plan to make it a monthly thing — maybe someday,but not in the near future, because I suck and I just can’t do thatmuch work.

“I procrastinate way too much I would probably be killing myselftrying to do that.”

In addition to Blue Monday, Clugston-Major has worked on thecomic-book version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” another punk-rockindie comic called Hopeless Savages, and most recently MarvelUltimate Team-up #11. A Blue Monday Valentine’s day special is comingsoon, and she is developing a new title for Oni Press called ScooterGirl.

“Scooter Girl is a six-issue series. It’s much more mature thanBlue Monday. It also takes place in high school.”

Comicsare a family affair for Clugston-Major — her husband, Guy Major, isalso in the industry.

“We went to high school together,” she said. “I got him intocomics actually, which is the funny thing.

“It was kind of a fluke. He wanted to do something that wouldenable us to work together sometimes, and just happened to get intoan accident that enabled him to get the money that enabled him to getthe computer that enabled him to be able to color, and he just endedup being good at it, really good at it actually, so we just kind oflucked out I guess.”

Though the couple has worked together on occasion, Clugston-Majorsaid they aren’t planning any long-term projects.

“I get frustrated really easy working with other people. We triedworking together before but it ended up being kind of a problem.

“I figured it was best, since we spend a lot of time togetherbecause we both work at home, not to try to collaborate on anythingif we don’t have to. Otherwise, I want to kill him and stuff.”

For more information and a complete listing of stores that carryBlue Monday and other Oni titles, go to www.onipress.com.

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