Review by Frank Plowright
So Amelia is another year older, but those problems for her and others just keep coming, and Jimmy Gownley’s so good at pitching them and even better at throwing them from nowhere and offering an understanding into the kids. With Her Permanent Record he extends his compassionate insight to adults as well.
Since her introduction, leading cheerleader Britney has served a purpose as the uber-bitch of fifth and sixth grade, vacuous, yet with a pernicious tongue, and cheerleading the seeming be all and end all of her life. Here we discover why. We also discover that there’s another side to Amelia’s Aunt Tanner, cool dispenser of pithy information to children. A popular singer before turning her back on fame, her comeback’s a great success until a childhood boyfriend begins posting extremely mean-spirited comments online and claiming he’s writing a book about her. Tanner disappears, and Amelia decides to find her.
After seven books there’s also some progress for Reggie. In the streaming age, one moment of instinct has a greater impact in popularising his superhero club than everything he’s done previously, and rapidly inspires imitators across the country. Reggie has always been daft, but charismatic, but even he had to grow up a little at some stage, and he’s pivotal in marshalling much needed forces with a speech that echoes both Braveheart and Bluto from Animal House.
Gownley provides the full dose of charm and heartbreak. Amelia has always been likeable, and despite her head teacher’s comedically exaggerated misgivings, she’s always had an instinct for what’s right, and that what’s right sometimes requires ignoring the rules. In the manner of realising after years of upbringing that your child has the tools they’ll need as an adult, Gownley’s final glimpse of Amelia offers that same reassurance.
Despite being picked up by a mainstream publisher, the entire Amelia Rules! series still sneaks below the radar of the comics community, and that’s a great shame. Over the past few years, primarily due to reprints after being out of print for decades, John Stanley’s Little Lulu is being re-affirmed as the masterpiece it is. The only comparable strip in both outlook and execution is Amelia Rules!, and more people should know about it.