I SUSPECT THAT MANY READERS will have the same initial problem that I did with Jason Little's Motel Art Improvement Service, recently published by Dark Horse: Cute Hipster Overload™. The story opens in Brooklyn, on a quirky, bespectacled 18-year-old named Bee (Bee!) who's about to hop on her bike for a cross-country trip to San Francisco. It's all just a little... much, isn't it? But at a certain point, maybe five pages in, something clicked: This is just what the kids look like these days. Nancy Drew drove a blue roadster—Bee rides a green road bike.

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Once my inner curmudgeon quit grumbling, I settled comfortably into Bee's tale, as she promptly crashes her bike and winds up at a roadside motel. She soon falls for a hot custodian with a quirky quirk of his own: He's an ex-art student who's using his talents to modify bad motel room art. It's not long before his penchant for pill popping has the couple crossing paths with a violent drug dealer—hipster hijinks ensue.

Little has such a pretty hand with colors—and such a devotion to the subtle interplay of shadow and light—that he can be forgiven an over-reliance on "soon" and "meanwhile" in his narration. Chief among Motel Art's visual treats are big-assed Bee's joyful sex scenes (condoms included, natch). Not only is Little's Cute Hipster Heroine™ tough and smart, she's also perfectly capable of taking care of herself. It's a trope, finally, I can get behind.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30