I Kill Giants

April 11th, 2014

Tasha Robinson makes a strong argument that Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura's 2008 graphic novel I Kill Giants would work well as an animated film:

[…] I Kill Giants starts in a familiar environment, in this case a fifth-grade classroom on Career Day, where a parade of parents is explaining their jobs to the students. But one kid is reading a book instead of paying attention. When challenged, she says she doesn't need to think about her future career, because she already has one: "I find giants. I hunt giants. I kill giants."

This is Barbara Thorson, a defiant, self-possessed kid with a huge but melancholy personal agenda, and one of the best, most unheralded comics characters of the 2000s. Barbara comes across as weird and immature in some ways, like in her habit of wearing cutesy animal ears to school, and the way her inability to rein in her resentment makes her problems into everyone else's problems. She's a problem kid, but she still comes across as a bit of a wish-fulfillment character in her sureness and her oddball version of nobility. In an era defined by insecure, self-questioning, or clumsy teen-girl heroes, Barbara stands out for her utter fearlessness in the face of generic threats. The problems that define so many school stories – mean teachers, clueless administrators, bullies, trivial concerns like grades or popularity – don't mean anything to Barbara. She's a self-proclaimed giant-slayer. Just incidentally, she's a self-proclaimed giant-slayer in a world where there don't appear to be any giants.

I Kill Giants was one of the last series I finished before I took a break from comics a few years ago and I hadn't thought about it in quite a while, but I've got to say that a good animated version of I Kill Giants would be quite something. Or, failing that, I guess I'll just have to read it again.1

  1. But once I open that box I just know that I'll end up getting sucked back in. Hopeless Savages. Local. Nextwave. Phonogram. Then there's Hellboy: I gather that Mike Mignola is back both writing and doing the art on the current series. How can I resist? Dammit, I can't afford a comics habit again!

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