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Comic Book / Making Friends

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Making Friends is a graphic novel by Kristen Gudsnuk (Henchgirl)

The story follows a girl named Danielle "Dany" Radley who recently started the 7th grade, but is having trouble fitting in. The friends she used to hang out with are in different classes and not in the same lunch period and she feels like she's growing apart from them. Things change when her aunt Elma passes away and the family rummage through her house for anything valuable. Dany finds a batch of sketchbooks and manage to claim one (after her greedy aunt and uncle snatch up the majority of them). While milling around in her room, she sketches one of her favorite anime characters in and finds that it brings him come to life, revealing the sketchbook to be magical. Deciding to push her luck a bit, she creates a friend of her own, Madison Fontaine, a super cool friend from New York.


Naturally however while it seem like a good idea on paper, she soon begins to realize the consequences of the power she now wields, while at the same time starts to realize her own self-worth as a person.

Released in 2018 by Scholastic. It got a sequel in 2019 subtitled "Back to the Drawing Board" in which Dany gets into further shenanigans when she tries to makes a duplicate of herself to help with her schoolwork. And things getting more complicated when a magic dog runs amuck through town.

A third and supposedly final book, Third Time's the Charm was released in August 2021. This one follows up on a plot point in the second book of Danny's notebook going haywire after she tried to make a duplicate of it after her mother took it away from her. The book somehow transport Dany and Madison into alternate world where the two are now twins and attending a prestigious school where they meet another girl, Amara. The two have to find out what's going on an set things back to normal. Here's a preview.



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     Making Friends 
  • Abusive Parents: Somewhat played for laughs with Dany's uncle, Dave, who has a bit of a Hair-Trigger Temper and isn't exactly a great father to his son. During the kid's sixth birthday party, when his son states he doesn't like a toy car he got as a gift, Dave's response is to grab the birthday cake and throw it to ground. Not like the kid was being bratty, it was just a blunt response (the aunt who gave it to him ask what wrong with it and he stated that he just liked trains is all) and again, a six year old. Naturally Dany's mother and aunt call him out on it. The second book does reveal he has a bit of a Freudian Excuse due to his upbringing by his father whom is overly strict and critical (Even Dany thinks her grandfather's a bit of a jerk).
  • Creating Life: A crux of the story which deals with Dany having to take responsibility for her creations.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Dany at the start, she does have friends from her old school, but grew distant upon reaching 7th grade and feels she can't talk with them anymore due to being in the different classes and lunch periods, which is what drives her to create Madison. Though later she eventually starts making friends just by talking to people and she manages to reconcile with her old friends later on.

  • Redemption Rejection: At the end, Dany tries to convince Neptune that he doesn't have to be evil and that he can be a good person. It seems to get through to him... until he announces that he'll just try and make his own kingdom from scratch and steal Dany's sketchbook. After this Dany figures he's Beyond Redemption and has her friends and she banish him to the moon with their powers.
  • Sailor Senshi Send-Up: "Solar Sisters", a Show Within a Show which is pretty obviously based on Sailor Moon.
  • Shout-Out: To Henchgirl, Kristen Gudsnuk's comic series – the characters in Making Friends appear to share a universe with Henchgirl:
    • Furria, Amelia's magical cat-like companion, appears as a plushie in Dany's room.
    • Products and businesses from Crepe City appear in Dany's Connecticut town, including Scuzz Cola, Cthulhu Burger, That's Convenient! Stores, and Morphimals (Mary's favorite books when she was a child and when she goes back in time in Issue 10.)
    • Madison picks out a selection of books for Dany at a bookstore, including a Henchgirl trade paperback, with high praise for it! Celestial Angel Amelia also has books about her in the bookstore.
    • Madison wears a Froozie shirt -– RIP, Froozie – he was killed in the Glorbon invasion in Issue 3 of Henchgirl.
  • Super Empowering: Once Prince Neptune manages to draw himself a new body and attacks the school, Dany uses the book to make the rings from "Solar Sisters" to give to her friends to help fight against the shadow monsters Neptune creates.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Naturally when you make a person without much backstory and bring them to life, especially as a teen, they'll start to question the holes in logic in their life such as why they haven't heard from their parents.
    • Dany tries to make a body for Neptune but since it's one without a head it's just lump of flesh whom Neptune can barely control with his powers. Ultimately Dany and Madison are forced to bury it in the backyard of Dany's house.
    • After Dany reveals to Madison that she created her, Madison naturally doesn't take it well since her life was fabricated up to that point and rejects Dany's offer to make her parents.
    • When Madison decides to go off on her own, she tries to go to stay at a hotel, but they won't allow minors without parents. So she bums at a "Wol-Mart" but is eventually found by security. After the police find she has no parents (Madison just states they abandoned her), she's put up into a foster home.
    • One of the first people that that Dany brings to life (albeit accidentally) is the head of Prince Neptune, an anime character from a Sailor Moon-type series. The thing is though, in-universe, he's an anti-villain at best and doesn't understand that Dany's world isn't the same as the one he comes from.
    • After battle with Neptune, the school ends up wrecked and the student are relocated to other schools until repairs are finished.
  • The Power of Friendship: Though mocked her and there at the end, it's ultimately what ends up beating Neptune.

     Back to the Drawing Board 
  • Aborted Arc: One setup at the start of the story involved Dany having to deal with the Alpha Bitch Cara. But the plot is dropped halfway though and given a hasty wrap up by the end.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The climax involves Nick Maloney (the bully from the first book) using Penelope's powers for his own ends, one of which is to become a giant.
  • Clown-Car Base: The Pikkiball which Dany had made to house her clone. While it's small, it's well furnished, has a computer and TV screen for shows as well as to see whats going on on the outside and a floor that sucks in trash into it.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Nick is an antagonist in the story, but most of it was due to Dany shunning him whenever possible rather then try to talk things out. It's no wonder he went power mad when he found Penelope.
  • Every Man Has His Price: So does every Alpha Bitch. Dany bribes Cara to at least be nice to her in public, and Cara thinks Dany bribed Madison to be her friend.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Essentially to explain away a plot hole at the end of the first book. After the battle with Neptune, naturally a lot of people saw Dany and her friends wielding magic powers. Dany creates some shirts that will cause anyone who touches them to lose their memory of the past hour. Madison has a bit of a moral conundrum about it since it feels manipulative but Dany throws the shirt at her before she can complain further.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Or between a counterfeiter and a thief; Dany draws money and puts it toward the gym repair fund from “an anonymous donor”... which the principal steals and uses as their retirement fund.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Pikkiball is, naturally, one to Pokémon.
    • A few more toward Henchgirl
      • The Furria plushie is still in Dany's room.
      • The Angelic Scepter really gets around – from Mr. Molotov Cocktail's Russian mob, to Mary Posa of the Butterfly Gang in Crepe City, to Lovely Celestial Angel Amelia, to the floor of the room of a teenager in Connecticut. Cara and Nick are lucky Dany doesn't judge them “unworthy” - that turned out very badly for Coco, and would have been the same for Mary had Paige not saved her.
      • Dany reads “A Super Family” (the Posa family autobiography that excludes Mary entirely) while grounded.
      • A Mr. Great Guy movie is playing at a theater in Melton.
      • Lovely Celestial Angel Amelia posters are in Dany's room.
      • Nick gets hit by a soda can when the kids rebel against him at the dance – similar to Mary Posa throwing a soda can at a carrot guard to save a woman from being arrested during the Epilogue of Henchgirl - the first successful good deed Mary does.
    • Also Modern Fantasy, a comic series written by Rafer Roberts and drawn by Kristen Gudsnuk – a copy of the Modern Fantasy trade paperback is on Cloney's bookshelf in the Pikkiball, in the “banned” section!
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Similar to Madison, Clone Dany becomes more sentient as the story goes on and states she'll eventually have to leave Dany sooner or later to live her own life.
    • Madison gives Penelope chocolate, which as Dany says, is poisonous to dogs. It ends up causing Penelope to magically vomit.
    • After Nick is depowered and the matter with Penelope settled, the principal of the school hosting the party suspends him for all the trouble he cause. Magic use or no, he was still being destructive.
    • At the end, Madison tries to let her foster parents take in Penelope. Even when her sister tries to help convince them. The couple refuse since well, 1) magical dog having just been the cause of all the mayhem at the party and 2) as they state they already have three kids to take care of so a dog would just be another mouth to feed.
    • Madison asks Dany if she'll recreate Cloney after Nick has accidentally wished her out of existence. But Dany refuses to since it wasn't right of her in the first place. Though is no less sadden by her loss.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Once Dany's mom finds out about magic, she... takes it oddly well, finding it no more interesting than a common item and more worried about Dany's use of it. Likewise while the partygoers are in awe and fear of the magic going around during the climax, they likewise come to accept it pretty quickly. Heck the principal at the dance is more angered at Nick for his actions once he's depowered.

     Third Time's The Charm 
  • Alternate Universe: The main plot of this one has Dany and Madison suddenly transported into a world where they're now related and twins, their mom's a novelist and their father's a successful musician. The two now have to find out how this happened and put things back to normal. Eventually it's revealed it's the same universe, but Dani's mom mostly rewrote everything.
  • The Bus Came Back: Prince Neptune returns though in this case he's running a coffee shop and helping people with their insomnia. He reveals he came across inhabitants on the moon, was jailed by them after trying to conquer them and returned home after the princess of the moon helped him escape.
  • Downer Ending: It's eventually revealed that the books as well as Penelope were magical items to cloud people that lived on the moon who take then back. Just as they're about to take Madison and force Amara, who is one of them, to live in their socity. Danny's older sister and great aunt (who is revealed to be alive) come to rescue them. As they fight the cloud people, Dani and Madison run but... something happens and the universe once more changes. Dani seemingly finds herself back in her normal life, except not, her mother is an alien being now, her great aunt is on life support and Madison is no where to be found, leaving Dani stuck in this altered timeline. The only ray of hope is that Dani has a piece of the old magical notebook she has that could rewrite things. But the story ends with her meeting some new friends and playing a card game together.
  • Gainax Ending: You’ll probably have seen the ending above, so you know how the book ends. It took this troper multiple read-through to understand what the heck just happened… Luckily there is a 4th book set for release in August 2023, which will hopefully clear some stuff up.
  • Fantastic Racism: The cloud people look down on humans and especially aren't kind to hybrids. Amara finds this out the hard way when she hears her father talking with her grandfather who spits venom on her being a half human.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Amara turns out to be one of the cloud people, albeit having a human mother and a cloud person father.
  • Not Quite Dead: Dani's Great Aunt is revealed to be alive. She cites she was on the run from the cloud people who were after her notebooks and faked her death.
  • Portal Picture: While exploring a hidden area, Madison touches a magic sword and causes it to discharge a magic bolt. To escape being caught, Amara pulls Dany and Madison into magic painting just before some guards show up to investigate the noise.
  • The Reveal:
    • The whole universal re-write turns out to be caused by Dani's mother. Both to protect her family from agents of the cloud people, but likewise trying to give her family a better life and make Dani more presentable. She realizes her mistake when Dani states she feels she isn't living up to her expectations and trying to force her daughter to be something she isnt.
    • The notebooks, as well as Penelope, turn out to be property of cloud people who live on the moon that were stolen and ended up on Earth. By whom, though, the story never reveals.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Henchgirl: A Furria plushie and a Lovely Celestial Angel Amelia poster are in Dany's room.