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Literature / The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

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"And, oh, the sigh. Who would ever have thought that a simple expulsion of air from the lungs could be so... so magical?"

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl is a 2006 novel written by Barry Lyga. It is primarily a Coming of Age Story, as is its sequel, Goth Girl Rising.

Donnie aka "Fanboy" takes pride in shutting out the world and the terrible people he's encountered. With his mother married to the "step-fascist," a large man who doesn't speak much, and a bully who keeps bruising his arm, Fanboy's only hope is to get his graphic novel published. He plans to go to a convention and meet Brian Michael Bendis, his favorite comic writer, to get that deal. Several weeks to convention time, he encounters a girl who, like him, hates everyone, and who shares his love of comics.

This work contains examples of:

  • Ascended Fanboy: Titular Fanboy wants to become one. He has a Graphic Novel he wants to show Brian Michael Bendis, Schemata, and hopefully have Bendis be so astounded by it that he'll call a publisher on the spot. It doesn't work out the way he'd hoped, but in the second book, when he takes Cal's advice and starts publishing it in the school newspaper, he becomes very popular for it.
  • As Himself: Brian Michael Bendis appears at the convention. Sadly averted with Neil Gaiman in the Goth Girl Rising, since Kyra was writing emails that she never sent to him.
  • Black and Nerdy: Cal, though he's also an Academic Athlete.
  • Black Comedy: Cal's username, IAmAChildMolester.
  • Blatant Lies: The Great Ecuadorian Tortoise Blight of 1928.
  • Broken Bird: Kyra
  • Closet Geek: Cal
  • Canon Welding: Fanboy and Goth Girl, with all of Barry Lygas' subsequent novels, are set in the same town and have some plotlines that intersect. For instance, the lacrosse players whose grades were hacked into and changed are later revealed, in Hero-Type, to be the result of a prank pulled by the Council of Fools. And the ending of that book is brought upon by the beginning of Boy-Toy.
  • Consummate Liar: Kyra. No, she doesn't have a sister. Also, the cars she's driving don't belong to anyone in her family; she steals them. Yes, she wants Fanboy's original drawings because she liked them, not because she's planning to humiliate him in front of the school.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both of the titular characters, but Kyra is more vocal.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Kyra can be considered this for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Like most MPDGs, she has her quirks and she convinces the protagonist to join her on her crazy ideas, but her actions are shown to be very self-destructive.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Fanboy clearly didn't consider that an autograph signing wasn't the best place to show Bendis his graphic novel, given that there would be a massive line of people waiting to meet him and he wouldn't have nearly enough time to look at it thoroughly. Also see Surprisingly Realistic Outcome.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kyra.
    Kyra/Promethea387: Don't be so paranoid. We can look at it in the car after school and I'll drive you home again.
    Fanboy/XianWalker76: But I need to live to Saturday :)
  • Easily Forgiven: Kyra in Goth Girl Rising. She even notes that Fanboy has every right to hate her for what she did to him. Thankfully for her, he doesn't.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Fanboy sees his name (Donnie) as this. He doesn't seem to have a problem with Donald or Don, though.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles
  • First-Name Basis: By the end of the second book, Kyra decides she'd like to be on one with Fanboy.
  • First-Person Smartass: Fanboy, in the first book. Goth Girl, even more so, in the sequel.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Kyra says "eff" instead of "fuck".
  • Goth: Guess.
  • Groin Attack: Kyra to Fanboy at the end of the first book.
  • Hidden Buxom: As it turns out, Kyra has a large chest and uses clothing to disguise it, due to her belief that All Men Are Perverts. And then she flashes Donnie. And Brian Michael Bendis.
  • Important Haircut: After she gets out of the hospital, Kyra shaves all of her hair off. It freaks her dad out because she resembles her late mother.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Fanboy, when Cal mentions he was a fan of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen tests the latter about being a fan by asking if he enjoyed the issue with the Wright Brothers. As it turns out, no issue of League has the Wright Brothers. Cal's confusion convinces Fanboy that the former is an actual fan and not a bully looking to target Fanboy.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a "comic book," it's a graphic novel.
  • I Never Got Any E-mails: The reason Kyra thinks Fanboy never wrote to her. Her father, in a misguided attempt to protect her, went through her e-mails and deleted anything he thought might upset her.
    • Inverted with Kyra's emails to Neil Gaiman.
  • Interrupted Suicide: What happened with Kyra's first attempt. She still has the scars from it. Fanboy calls her father before she can attempt a second time.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Kyra learned how to hotwire cars on the Internet. She lies to Fanboy about how the cars belong to her sister.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Fanboy believes that the lacrosse athletes except Cal received this. After mocking academic-oriented students like him, they get busted for faking their grades in several classes. The only reason Fanboy doesn't celebrate completely is that Cal feels miserable about having to forfeit all their matches, and that his teammates wouldn't see the scandal as wrong.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Kyra is a darker and more destructive version of this in the first book. Ultimately subverted.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Inverted, and then subverted. Kyra ostensibly tells Cal that Fanboy is gay, to get Cal to leave him alone before the convention. She actually told Cal about Fanboy's graphic novel.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kyra briefly slips into this when she realizes that all of her vindictive actions against Fanboy were for nothing. He really did write her every day, but the e-mails were deleted by Roger before she could read them.
  • Noble Demon: Well, noble criminal in Kyra's case. She steals cars for fun, but always makes a point of leaving them where they can be easily recovered and bringing them back with a full tank of gas, just because she doesn't want to screw over the owners.
  • No Name Given: Fanboy almost plays this straight. There is one occasion in each book where his name is said outright, but the rest of the time, the narration goes out of the way to avoid saying it. It's not quite a subversion, because the first reveal is pretty early on. In addition, the name issue is still confusing because the way he's typically addressed by other characters in-story — "Donnie" versus "Donald" and "Don" — isn't fully spelled out. For that matter, the latter two names weren't even revealed until the second book.
    • It's played straight with Fanboy's last name — we are only told that it is not the same as his mother's, which is revealed.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Fanboy when Kyra flashes Brian Michael Bendis.
    • Kyra when she gets busted for stealing a car in Goth Girl Rising.
  • Parents as People: A running theme in the books is that parents often aren't much wiser than the kids they're in charge of, despite their best intentions. A good example of this is Roger in Goth Girl Rising: He deletes all of Fanboy's e-mails to Kyra in an effort to keep her from seeing anything that might upset her upon her release from the hospital, not realizing that she'd actually been looking forward to them.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite Fanboy's dislike of people, he receives and gives these moments.
    • When his mom can't drive him to the convention, he threatens to call his father to pick him up, which puts them at odds. Then the "step-fascist," Don's new stepdad, offers to drive him.
    • For Dina, who actually gives Fanboy a kiss later in the book and tells him that girls are stupid for wanting only hot, ripped men.
    • Don has one at the end, where he asks his mother if he can feel the kid she's pregnant with.
  • Precision F-Strike
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Kyra.
  • Really Gets Around: Kyra's friend Simone.
  • Shout-Out: To Alan Moore, along with various other comic-related apparel.
  • Shown Their Work: In-universe, Fanboy does a lot of research for Schemata, including visiting the inner city for drawing references. He also points out to Kyra that making fun of him for reading hero comics makes no sense when her favorite comic writer Neil Gaiman's early graphic novels like Sandman had cameos from DC heroes.
  • The Snark Knight: Fanboy and Kyra make quite a pair of this.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Something that Fanboy should've realized: a comic creator can't approve publication of a comic.
    • A real life Manic Pixie Dream Girl is rare, and she is probably not the former suicidal girl that takes interest in you.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: Cal does this when he and Fanboy realize they've both had a bad day. Fanboy's bad day involves Bendis gently explaining that he can't accept comic books for publication since he's a comic writer, not an editor and Kyra flashing Bendis in response. Cal's bad day involved the lacrosse team getting caught in a cheating scandal on the day of a big game and the whole team has to forfeit a season's worth of wins.
  • Time for Plan B: When Fanboy's first plan for Schemata goes south, Cal helps him publish it in the school newspaper.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Fanboy after his parents divorced and he was forced to leave all of his friends behind. He gets better by Goth Girl Rising with Cal and Kyra's help.
  • The Unreveal: Fanboy's "third thing".
  • Wham Line: From the first Fanboy book, "Kyra doesn't have a sister."
  • Write Who You Know: In-universe, Kyra points out that Donnie unconsciously modeled his character on Dina, a popular girl at school.

Alternative Title(s): Goth Girl Rising