When I was a kid, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I read the books and I absolutely loved the 2002 Wonderful World of Disney Nancy Drew movie. I tried opening doors with fake credit cards and bobby pins; it never worked. Nancy Drew was the first detective that I loved, and I have been interested in stories of female detectives ever since I met her. I was incredibly excited when I heard Boom! Studios was publishing a new comic about a teenage female detective. The comic was Goldie Vance by Hope Larson. Goldie Vance is a character I always want to introduce people to because she is a joy to read about.
Goldie Vance tells the story of Goldie Vance, a teenager who works as a valet at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel. Goldie might work as a valet, but she really wants to be a detective. She helps the Hotel’s detective, Walter, solve the cases he gets, such as a lost child or a stolen necklace. The comic takes place in the 1960s in Florida. The 1960s Florida setting allows characters to dress in pastel colors, wear fancy suits, checkerboard shirts, and horn-rimmed glasses. Because Goldie does not have an office, she frequently works on her cases at the Deep End Diner, a place where she can get a burger and fries while discussing cases. Goldie Vance started in 2016 as an ongoing comic, then in 2018 It stopped being an ongoing series. Boom! Studios has continued telling Goldie Vance mysteries in original graphic novels.
While I do love Nancy Drew mysteries, it is a series that lacks diversity. The main characters are white and most of the characters Nancy interacts with are white. Goldie is biracial; her father is African American, and her mother is white. Goldie’s best friend, Cheryl, is African American. The world these characters interact with is also diverse. The background characters are not all white and witnesses to crime and victims of crime are diverse. The first case Goldie solves is helping an Asian family find their missing child. Goldie’s main love interest is a woman. Goldie is very in love with Diane, the cute girl who works at the record shop. Goldie and Diane’s relationship is adorable; they are two people who obviously love each other. Goldie and Diane are shown as a couple that supports each other and their different personalities work well together. It is enjoyable to see how Diane’s calm and cool personality can calm down always-on-the-go Goldie. Goldie Vance adds much needed diversity to stories about teenage detectives.
Goldie Vance has some of the best supporting characters in any comic; they are all interesting and well developed. Cheryl is Goldie’s best friend, but she doesn’t just sit on the sidelines while Goldie solves cases. She uses her intelligence to help Goldie figure out evidence, and the comics do a wonderful job showing Cheryl train to become the astronaut she dreams of being. Walter, the Hotel’s detective, could easily have been written as a villain. Goldie is always inserting herself into his cases, and he could have been a character who hated her and always wanted her to go away. Instead, Walter is written as a sweet man who might find Goldie annoying sometimes, but he appreciates her help and sees that she has good detective skills. Diane is more than just Goldie’s love interest; readers get to see her as a competent record store employee and as a real asset when Goldie is solving cases. Diane uses her seamstress skills to make Goldie undercover outfits, and she has impressive driving skills that help Goldie get out of dangerous situations.[SugarMaple.jpg] Credit: Boom Studios Alt text: Goldie shaking hands with Sugar Maple
Even Goldie’s nemesis, Sugar Maple, is an interesting character who readers get to see develop into a fully rounded character. Sugar is a former friend of Goldie’s. Sugar is first presented as a spoiled rich girl who gets everything she wants, but as the story goes along it becomes clear that Sugar does not have a wonderful life. She is someone who feels unsupported, and she knows that her tough personality has led to her not having close friends. Most stories would leave Sugar as the mean girl, but Goldie Vance shows that it is more interesting to write Sugar as a complex character with a range of emotions.
Goldie may be young, but she is presented as a good detective. She is talented at putting together evidence to solve cases. She is highly observant and good at listening to people. Goldie is charming and kind; people usually want to talk to her. Goldie is also good at working with others to solve cases; she recognizes that she needs help to find solutions. While Goldie is a good detective, she does have a couple flaws. Goldie frequently plays by her own set of rules, and while this does get her results, it also causes problems at her job and upsets her father. Goldie doesn’t always think about how her actions and words will affect others. During her excitement about cases, she sometimes says and does things to those she cares about that hurt them. Even though Goldie has this flaw, she will admit when she has made mistakes and apologizes to those she’s hurt.
Goldie Vance is a comic written for a younger audience, but I think it has something in it for everyone. If you’re a mystery fan, the comic tells interesting mysteries with twists and turns. One of the mysteries even takes place underwater. If you’re a romance fan, it has one of the sweetest love stories I have ever read. If you’re a fan of race car driving, it has a great storyline about Goldie racing cars and there is even a mystery where Goldie must help a race car driver who is being sabotaged. If you’re a fan of mermaids, then you will love Goldie’s mother who dresses as a mermaid and works at the Mermaid Club. Goldie Vance is a smart, funny, clever comic that readers of all ages can enjoy.
For more reviews on YA graphic novels, be sure to read Kinsey's articles. Her article "Exploring Friendship, Love, and Stress Relief in Giant Days" is available to read now.