Emily is the girl that your parents wouldn't let you play with, the one that was always in the Guidance Office, being asked why she felt it necessary to scrawl "Dylan & Eric Rule" over the picture in the school lobby of the recently deceased valedictorian son of the local bigwig, who's more in tune with the lives of her four black cats than with that of the Backstreet Boys, who can be (sometimes) counted on to be at the local goth hangout with (hand-forged) fake ID, and hands in book reports on the Marquis de Sade and Naked Lunch. Other girls taunt her, boys secretly lust after her, and moms wonder where her parents are, since they're almost never in evidence. She's Daria as imagined by Shirley Jackson, Elouise as a Ray Bradbury character, thin, witchy, and even more frightening when she smiles. She's also a very, very popular website (www.emilystrange.com), logo, and comic star.

Living (but of course) in the basement of a decaying shell of a Queen Ann house, she and the "Emily Strange Posse" -- the aforementioned cats -- live lives where inventiveness crosses paths with spellcasting, paranoia crosses with free-spiritedness, and private mythology crosses with popular culture. Somehow, I would imagine her to be a bit younger than the 13 she gives as her age: there's more than a bit of the "old child" in her, asexual and disaffected, than the hormonally-charged manic-depression of adolescence -- something about her makes me think her first sexual experience is going to involve her coldly mounting a terrified neighbor boy's erect penis and being disappointed that her hymen isn't bleeding enough to catch in a vial. (She's also NOT going to get pregnant, having read every single book on the subject in the local public library, and armed herself with every birth-control method she can shoplift from the local Walgreen's.) I find refreshing the fact that there's little effort made to give her wholesome, redeeming qualities, a la Buffy or Sabrina, and her researches into the occult are through the "mundaine" channel of a Magic 8-Ball (that reads "kNOw Future") and a stack of punk-rock records: on one hand, it recalls the "sick" humor of the 1950's, where outcasts and free spirits weren't always on the side of sweetness and light and on the other, the actual shamanic world as detailed by psychology and anthropology -- most shamans, and sha-women, operate in just this ad-hoc, vengeful, borderline schizophrenic manner...that sometimes works.

Also, I see more than a little of my own pre-adolescent self in her...

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