Username: Evie Revisited

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
July 9th, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Username: Evie Revisited

Due to a cut back in new comic book reading, our contributor Darryll Robson has taken to re-reading chunks of his collection. In this 'Revisited' series, he looks back at a selected run of a particular comic to see if they are still worth reading and, for newbies, if they are worth seeking out.

Username: Evie  Revisited

There can be some great perks to writing about something you’re passionate about. Over the few years that I’ve been reviewing comics I’ve been lucky enough to have access to some wonderful preview comics and got to interview some very cool creators.

But there are some down sides, one of which could come under the heading ‘We read it so you don’t have to’. I read quite a lot of comics and, due to the limited time available for reviewing purposes, I try to select ones that are on some level worth reading. They don’t have to be the best comics ever, I don’t just review comics I like, but there has to be something there I think someone, somewhere could appreciate.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

And unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to Joe Sugg’s Username: Evie.

Technically this isn’t a ‘Revisited’ article as I have only just found and read Username: Evie but as the book was published (by Hodder & Stoughton) in 2015 I didn’t think it warranted a typical review. Especially as this is going to be based more on my personal opinion than usual.

I have heard the title Username banded around by a number of people and seen it in shops with ‘pick of the week’ stickers attached to it. It has been on my radar for a while but I never quite got around to picking it up. But, fate landed a copy in a local charity shop so I just couldn’t resist the £0.50 price tack. I also bought volume 6 of Dark Horse ComicsStar Wars: A Long Time Ago reprint collections. That was £1. I have only read the first handful of pages. It is already better value than Username.

Username: Evie is the outlandish story of an unpopular girl at school, the outcast and geek who just doesn’t fit in. Seeing her daily struggles, her father designs a virtual world which will shape itself to Evie so that she will finally have a safe place to go. Unfortunately, her father dies before it is completed and Evie is shunted off to live with her hateful cousin.

When Evie finds and enters E.Scape, the world created by her father, she finally finds somewhere to be herself, to be accepted. That is until Mallory, her cousin, brings her hate into the virtual world with her.

On one level this all sounds very exciting and, although a touch obvious, the outline of the story isn’t a bad one. It’s sort of the Matrix mixed with a teen rom com. Or like an Archie comic written by Philip K Dick. Oh, how good would that have been? Archie by Philip K Dick.

Unfortunately, this is not written by Philip K Dick. It has been conceived by Joe Sugg and written by Matt Whyman. I have not read anything else by either of these two, or in fact heard of Sugg or his Vlogg, but I think it’s fair to say I will not be touching anything they have previously produced or will ever produce.

Username: Evie

Credit: Hodder & Stoughton

Bad Beginnings

From the opening few pages this book is terrible. The lead character, Evie, is introduced in a sequence where she’s running for her life through a city of horror but her inner monologue is obsessed with her mobile phone. She references ‘Apps’ and ‘Selfies’ as if just by mentioning them it will instantly make her cool, then she points out she can’t even get a phone signal. That’s a great bit of exposition, it explains to the reader why she throws her phone at the monsters heading her way but it is completely incoherent with the rest of the story. At this stage in her adventure, before the reader is taken back to the start, Evie should know her phone is useless, and that she has no-one to phone. This part is pointless and it quickly becomes so but it is nowhere near as bad as the writing gets.  There is a line in the script that reads “So, this is what it must mean to be loved”. A serious line: not sarcastic or tongue in cheek. An actual line of character building (I assume) dialogue.

Evie’s back story is an unoriginal, outcast at school story with a large chuck of tragic home life and it could easily be the basis for the worst Disney movie. The word ‘Twee’ could be used, but there is something endearing about twee things, there’s nothing endearing about Evie, or anyone else in her life. Bland would be a better word.

The story plods along, introducing concepts that are naive but could prove interesting. As you can probably guess, they don’t at any point prove interesting, instead they take the easiest route through development so that we, the reader, can all learn that ‘being cruel is wrong’ and ‘beauty is only skin deep’ except neither of these are proven by the script. Turns out the villain, such as she is, learns her lesson and faces no dire consequences while the ‘disfigured’ boy turns out to be beautiful all along. This is early Disney for a new generation and it grates. It’s like all the developments in advance story telling that has happened in the last 4 decades have been forgotten about.

Username: Evie

Credit: Hodder & Stoughton

Light at the end of the tunnel?

The one, almost, saving grace is the art work by Amrit Birdi. His compositional framing is wonderful and captures action sequences in a cinematic way. The visual pace is definitely inspired by modern movie making however the character design is, for the most part, also inspired by the aesthetic popular in modern movie blockbusters: young, thin and pretty. There’s not much to differentiate the characters and at times Evie and Mallory are indistinguishable.  The heroes are ‘pretty’ and slim and the villains have physical deformities that identify them as villains. Cliché almost doesn’t cover it. The energy created from the compositions is quickly sucked out of the comic by the very poor, 2 dimensional script choices.

There is something interesting buried deep within this graphic novel, somewhere underneath the cringe worthy dialogue and unimpressive design work, but it is covered up by so much garbage that even if you did find it, you’d probably not want to keep it. It is teenage angst at it's most obvious and there are much better comics dealing with the same themes out there, on the shelves; just go have a look. Username: Evie is the first of a trilogy (apparently, and let’s face it, why not? Everything else is a trilogy these days. Go with the flow, that’s what Joe Sugg’s must say) where potentially the creators have room to grow and produce something worth reading. However, I will never find out because this first outing is so awful I don’t want to risk wasting my time on any more.

If anyone is interested, I know where you can get a copy of Username: Evie for 25p; from my local charity shop.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson

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