FOREWORD -- Lucky Penny features a young woman who's on her own, but hasn't quite figured life out yet. It seems Penny's luck is all bad, as she loses her job and her apartment, and ends up living in a storage unit and working at the local laundromat. She develops a romantic interest in a young man who works at the gym nearby, and trades barbs with the twelve-year-old who runs the laundromat for his parents. There's also a bit of suspense when Penny's storage unit is broken into, but despite the plot twists, this graphic novel succeeds on the ability of Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota to bring Penny and the other characters to life in a simple, quirky, charming way. Ota has worked on a long list of publications, and she shows an expert hand in visual storytelling. She draws Penny's eyes using a myriad of styles: huge and watery, as black dots or narrow slits, with no pupils or extra-wide pupils. In a hysterical three-panel sequence, she uses this range to perfectly express Penny's panicked realization that she's packed her car keys deep within the contents of her apartment. Penny is a poor soul who makes bad decisions, but she's lovable throughout, and memorable even after the last page has been read. The graphic novel universe should consider itself lucky to have her.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED) -- Penny Brighton, 18, is something of a manic pixie, and by the end of this exceptionally entertaining comic, she's on her way to becoming one guy's dream girl, even though disaster follows her everywhere. Part rom-com, part pop-culture parody, the story opens with Penny losing her job, parting ways with her friend/roommate Helen, and moving into Helen's newly empty storage unit. After Penny snags a job at the Laundromat-which is managed by Helen's surly 11-year-old brother-she meets geeky desk clerk Walter, and an awkward romance is born. Penny's story grew out of Hirsh and Ota's Johnny Wander webcomic, and they're in perfect sync, delivering drily funny dialogue and outlandish visual comedy that plays with conventions of film, manga, and geek culture (for her part, Penny adores fantasy romance novels with titles like Dragon Lust and Succubus Seduced, which she organizes “according to hotness”). The plot veers into action-thriller territory toward the end, blurring the lines between what's real and imagined, but Penny's idiosyncratic exuberance carries the day, and her hapless attempts to get her life in order should hit home with a broad range of readers.
BOOKLIST -- Previously published as a webcomic, Hirsh and Ota's Lucky Penny follows aimless twenty-something Penny, who's anything but-you guessed it-lucky. Fired on the day she's moving out of the apartment she didn't choose to vacate, Penny isn't going great. Her friend Helen saves the day (and readers can assume this isn't the first time), transferring her storage locker to Penny, who will live in it, and getting Penny a job at her parents' laundromat. Things are starting to look up! She even finds a cat she names Boyfriend, and there's actual boyfriend potential in the cute receptionist who sneaks her into the community center. But Penny's not lucky. How long can this last? The comic's pace occasionally quickens unexpectedly, and wild antics ensue when Penny's newfound safety and job security are threatened. Ota's black-and-white cartoons are stylish and bright, and characters' faces are full of expression. Quirky Penny, like characters in the romance novels she loves, is all heart, and she'll easily charm readers with her smoking, drinking, train-wreck style.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL -- Penny, a young 20-something who describes herself as having a "weird tattoo and a smoking habit," is once again down on her luck. Recently both jobless and homeless, she moves into her best friend's storage unit, where her primary companion is a stray cat. Even though Penny concludes she is bad luck to those around her, she is tenacious about improving her situation--even if it means she must work in a laundromat for a precocious, sarcastic (and, later we learn, vengeful) preteen. More mature teens will especially enjoy this humorous slice-of-life comic done in noir shades. The artwork is simple, yet the facial expressions are lively. Penny's insecurities navigating a budding romance with the nerdy yet lovable Walter come across as authentic and comical (especially when she imagines scenarios inspired by cliched romance novels). The situations Penny finds herself in are at times fantastical, but readers can relate to her reactions, which are a mixture of awkwardness and sincerity. VERDICT Teens who have followed the misadventures of Penny Brighton online will enthusiastically welcome this print edition, which will surely create new fans.