Spotlight On: Mean Girls Club Pink Dawn by Ryan Heshka

Our spotlight series dives into some of our favourite titles released in previous years. Here, we share a glimpse into the first pages of MEAN GIRLS CLUB: PINK DAWN, as well as reconnecting with the author to discover how they feel about the book now, and what they’ve been up to since the book’s release.

The Mean Girls Club have been laying waste to the town for years, and the power-crazed Mayor Schlomo is hell-bent on their destruction. He blackmails a young mechanic named Roxy to infiltrate the Clubhouse – but her feisty attitude lands her an initiation into the Club instead! Torn between the sleazebag Mayor’s dirty threats and her unexpected friendships with the Mean Girls, Roxy holds the fate of the Club in her hands…

Text and Illustrations © Ryan Heshka

“At the time that Nobrow invited me to create a Mean Girls Club graphic novel, around late-2016, the world changed for me in two ways. First, my daughter Roxy was born. I had become a father. Second, an orange con man was elected President of the United States. Now, I’m a Canadian citizen, but as a GLOBAL citizen and a father, this second event cut very deep. It felt like the floodgates were opened for con men, misogynists, corporate criminals and authoritarians. This may have been an overreaction (although at this moment in time, I don’t think it was) due to the fact I was holding this small little baby girl in my arms, feeling like a Pandora’s box of Dirt Bags had just been opened in front of us. That was the birth of Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn.

Rough drafts of the cover

As I walked our newborn around between 2 am and 4 am night after night, I began to script and lay out the graphic novel in my head. Together in the dead of night, Roxy and I battled crooked cops, obscenely corrupt religious leaders and piggish power-hungry patriarchy. All through the lens of a gang of 1950s-styled female delinquent rebels. I even named the new MGC character Roxy. I had always gravitated towards the underdogs, the anti-heroes, the outliers. This misfit gang became my voice to strike out at a contemporary menace, if only on paper.

The book all came together quite organically; naively but authentically in my comic book voice. In hindsight, I can’t believe I was able to produce 100 pages as an older, tired dad with a new infant. I’m sure the key was not over thinking it. The book still remains one of my proudest achievements (I’m pretty proud of my daughter too), and the message holds up, the spirit of the book remains unfaded. Maybe we need that message and spirit more in 2022 than we did when the book was released in 2018, which now feels like an eternity ago now. I’m not convinced we’ve progressed much in the past five years.

Since that time, the original artwork (in its entirety) for Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn, in addition to some Mean Girls Club-inspired paintings, became the core of my art exhibition “FREEKS” at the Corey Helford Gallery (LA) in 2019). I have also found time to self-publish two more comic books: Frog Wife (2019) and Pleasure Planet (2021), both printed using the risograph technique that I first used in my original 16 page Mean Girls Club comic book in 2014. I now have a serious case of the comic bug, and look forward to a time when I can produce another risograph comic, something more experimental in nature, possibly an anthology type comic.

For anyone interested in producing their own comics, I would suggest they start with a subject they absolutely LOVE or feel extremely passionate about, and create a small, dynamic narrative. Comics can be daunting, but they can be as simple as a stunning four panel sequence published on your Instagram page. It doesn’t have to be a book. However, if the print format is of interest, I highly recommend trying risograph printing (basically a photocopier that can print a limited number of vibrant colors, each in an individual pass through the machine). It’s an art form in itself.”

Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn

Ryan Heshka

This stereotype-busting graphic novel subverts 1950s clichés to bring you an utterly wild, pink-tinted trip in Ryan Heshka’s unmistakably cool style.