In Zits: Chillax, Jeremy Duncan, high school sophomore and future rock god, offers up a comedic outlook on teenage life, including school, parents, chores, bands, and friends.
Jeremy and his best friend, Hector Garcia, are planning to achieve a lifelong dream…going to a rock concert! Without parental supervision. But the Gingivitis concert falls on the same night their friend Tim is donating bone marrow for his mom, a cancer patient. Not a problem: Jeremy and Hector are determined to go to the show…for Tim.
Written and illustrated by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, Zits: Chillax is based on their comic strip, Zits. The book features 300 illustrations—including hilarious full-page comics.
When I was a kid I loved reading the comic pages of the newspaper, or the 'funnies' as we always called them in my family. Zits, tragically accurate name aside, was always one of my favorites, perhaps even the favorite comic strip. Given that love, I was curious when I saw this book around, so when my dear friend Lenore (author of The Memory of After) offered me her ARC, I went for it. This novelization of the comic strip series was enjoyable if not quite as awesome as the strip itself.
While this is a novelization and not a collection of the Zits comics, which I thought might have been a possibility, fear not, as there are a bunch of illustrations in classic Zits style. Reading books with pictures is super refreshing, because all of a sudden I read so fast. Borgman's illustrations are hilarious, largely integrated into the story, including dialog responding to the prose text, though some are sort of commentaries on the story going on around it.
Jeremy continues to be the quintessential teenage boy. He completes his schoolwork at the last minute, recognizes the best ways to avoid getting stuck doing chores, and is completely embarrassed by his parents. This, right here, is what most teens I know experiences: present parents who care and are just sort of endlessly the bane of your existence, as though they purposefully want to harm your tenuous social status. Jeremy hates talking about his feelings and converses primarily with the word "Dude." He's a teenage boy with dreams of being a rock god, who sometimes forgets where his bed is and sleeps on the piles of stuff on his floor. Oh yeah, and he sleeps until the afternoon because that's what teens do.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Two elements combine for the plot of Zits: Chillax: a concert and cancer. Jeremy and his best friend Hector have tickets to go see their favorite band, Gingivitis, but are unsure whether they'll be able to convince their parents to let them go. At the same time, their band Chickenfist is in trouble when Tim, the bassist, announces that he'll be leaving them for a while, as his mother has cancer. The boys, unsure how to handle such an emotional moment decide that they need to go to this concert for Tim. This premise does make me a bit uncomfortable, using cancer as a device to move the plot along, rather than conveying the seriousness of it.
Aside from the cancer thing, Zits: Chillax is a series of hijinks related to getting to the concert. There are a lot of great funny moments, especially the moments where they're just hanging out with their friends being teens or when Jeremy's complaining about his parents. Oddly, the teen/parent dynamics have always been my favorite part of the comic, since they're so spot on, both to the affection and the rampant frustration involved in the relationship.
The Final Verdict:
The pacing of Zits: Chillax is fast, even without the pictures. It's a light, fluffy read that can be enjoyed by boys and girls alike, as well as fans of the comic.