Hopeless Savages

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Hopeless Savages
Cover to issue #1
Publication information
Publisher Oni Press
Schedule monthly
Format miniseries
Publication date June 12, 2002 - March 16, 2005
Number of issues 10
Main character(s) Skank Zero Hopeless
Creative team
Writer(s) Jen Van Meter
Artist(s) Christine Norrie

Hopeless Savages is a series by Oni Press written by Jen Van Meter. Thus far there have been three 4-issue miniseries (also released as trade paperbacks) and a one-shot, all written by van Meter but each illustrated by a different set of artists, including Christine Norrie, Chynna Clugston, Andi Watson, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and Vera Brosgol.

The story follows the members of the Hopeless-Savage family. Parents Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage are old-school punks who were part of the 70's punk scene. They married and moved to the suburbs to raise their children. The three oldest, Rat Bastard, Arsenal Fierce, and Twitch Strummer, are grown and have moved out of the house; youngest daughter Skank Zero is in high school.

The thread running throughout the stories is a family which superficially doesn't fit the "norm" but which can still stand together and function better than most "normal" families.


The Hopeless-Savage Family[edit]

  • Dirk Hopeless - The patriarch of the Hopeless-Savage clan. His real name is David Sterling, and before he found success as a punk rocker he was a teen idol in his native England, performing as part of Little Davie and the Sterlings. Feeling creatively stunted by his bubblegum-pop persona, he changed his name to Dirk Hopeless and became involved in the punk scene. He's the voice of reason in the Hopeless-Savage family, balancing out Nikki's sharp temper. He's also the primary cook for the family, often seen puttering around the kitchen in an apron.
  • Nikki Savage - The matriarch of the Hopeless-Savage clan. Nikki grew up in Nebraska, helping out in her family's bakery. Wanting to escape small town life, she follows a boyfriend to the big city, where she finds success and drug addiction. After completing rehab, her manager Weej introduces her to Dirk and they end up touring together, eventually falling in love and getting married. Nikki is tough and scrappy, proving throughout the series that she can hold her own. She also has a violent temper and Dirk affectionately describes her as "a bit mad".
  • Rat Bastard Hopeless-Savage- Rat's the eldest of the Hopeless-Savage children. At age fifteen he was rejected by a girl he was dating, prompting him to renounce his punk roots and move away from home. In the first miniseries he's working at Monjava (a company resembling Starbucks) at their corporate office, using his father's old name David Sterling. After the events of the first series he moves home and begins using his own name again. While growing up Rat took his older brother role seriously and his younger siblings looked up to him, particularly Zero. He is the only member of the family who is currently single.
  • Arsenal Fierce Hopeless-Savage- The second-oldest, Arsenal runs a martial arts dojo and lives with her boyfriend Claude Shi, a fashion designer. As a child Arsenal constantly got into fights and was expelled from so many schools that her parents eventually enrolled her in parochial school, which she actually enjoyed. Arsenal has played the role of protector ever since she was young; the reason for all those fights was her desire to protect weaker children from bullies. In college she became an activist, participating in such events as Take Back the Night. She's grown up to be fairly level-headed but still very protective, sometimes still acting rashly in extreme circumstances. She is an affectionate older sister to Zero, who she usually calls "Skankabelle". Whenever Arsenal goes on vacation she gets a new tattoo, likening it to getting a new stamp in her passport.
  • Twitch Strummer Hopeless-Savage- The third-oldest, Twitch works as an artist and dates Claude's younger brother Henry Shi, who he dated in high school before breaking up to go to college. Unlike the rest of his family, Twitch identifies more with mod culture rather than punk. He sometimes exhibits hyper-active tendencies which some theorize is the result of controlled substances (he jokes about being on crack early in the first issue) and sometimes will work all night on a project without sleep.
  • Skank Zero Hopeless-Savage- The youngest sibling and main protagonist of the series; most of the stories unfold around Zero. As a high school student, she's the only member of the family who's still in school. Zero fronts a band called the Dusted Bunnies and wants to study filmmaking as a "backup plan". She dates Ginger Kincaid, the class genius. Scrappy and outspoken, Zero reminds Nikki of a younger version of herself and as a result gets into several arguments with her mother, who tends to be overprotective of her.

Other characters[edit]

  • Norwegian "Weej" Blue- Nikki and Dirk's former manager, who originally introduced the two at his birthday party right after picking Nikki up from rehab. Dirk eventually fired Weej, saying that he'd trust him with his life but not his money. Weej is named after the fictional species of Parrot in the Dead Parrot sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Ginger Kincaid- Zero's boyfriend. A genius, MIT personally invited him to tour their campus and interview for admission. He originally met Zero when she and her siblings helped him stand up against bullies as a child.
  • Flora, Emma, and Tobey- AKA The Dusted Bunnies, Zero's bandmates. Emma and Tobey are dating, Flora is usually depicted as being more promiscuous. The band's origins and how they all met is the topic of the one-shot "Hopeless Savages B-Side All-Flashback Special".
  • Claude Shi- Arsenal's live-in boyfriend who works as a fashion designer. The two met while still in school at a martial arts tournament.
  • Henry Shi- Claude's younger brother, a musician and Twitch's boyfriend. Twitch originally broke up with him when Henry was admitted to Juilliard, afraid of holding him back. In the second miniseries "Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero" they reunite.

The Stories[edit]

Hopeless Savages[edit]

The first miniseries deals with Dirk and Nikki being kidnapped and their children trying to find them. They suspect it has something to do with their parents' past; so Arsenal, Twitch, and Zero first track down their older brother Rat, who they believe would know more about the situation but who left the family ten years earlier. Zero is at first reluctant to find him, feeling betrayed when he left. They finally locate him using their father's real name as a pseudonym and working at a trendy coffee company's corporate office. After attempting to de-program him they unravel the mystery of their parents' abduction, which stems back to copyright issues and Dirk's embarrassing past as a teen idol.

Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero[edit]

The second miniseries covers the beginning of Zero and Ginger's relationship. Throughout the course of the story Zero keeps getting grounded by Nikki for various offenses like punching a boy who made a crass comment regarding her name and coming home late from band practice. While all this is going on, Antique Rock Television is filming a Behind the Music-type show about Dirk and Nikki, and Nikki is trying to remaster her old albums for a re-release. This is also the series in which Twitch and Henry get back together.

Too Much Hopeless Savages![edit]

The third miniseries centers mostly around Arsenal and Twitch's trip to Hong Kong, although the scenes which take place at home are still documented from Zero's point of view. Arsenal is entered in a martial arts tournament; Henry and Claude want to visit their Grandmother Shi, who is a renowned fortune teller. Arsenal is particularly anxious about the match since she will be fighting a man who she fought as an adolescent; he sucker punched her and she ended up in the hospital, the only major injury from all her many brawls. However, within minutes of arriving someone slips a much coveted item into Arsenal's bag at the airport, and before long they are being hunted by local criminals and the British Secret Service. Back in the States, the Hopeless-Savage family is being harassed by a conservative Christian group led by a charismatic preacher who is manipulating Nikki's mother Vera. Fed up with the picketers on their lawn, the family decides to join Arsenal and Twitch in Hong Kong, taking Grandma Savage along with them.

Hopeless Savages: B-sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies[edit]

A one-shot that tells the story of how Zero formed her band. Separate vignettes show how she met each member, starting with Flora in junior high and working backwards to Emma while elementary-aged and Tobey as a toddler.

Twitch's Sexuality[edit]

The series has been praised for its depiction of a gay main character. In the introduction to the collected volume 2: Ground Zero, an editorial comments on how few and far between compassionate portrayals of homosexual relationships are and how well the story deals with Twitch and Henry's relationship.

Trade Paperbacks[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. Oni Press Official Site
  2. Writer Jen Van Meter's site)
  3. Spookoo Art House (artist Christine Norrie's site)