Lester Girls is a lot like most of us. He just wants to get to do what he wants. And what he wants is to live in a quiet little house in the suburbs with a mousy wife, a job as an accountant, and the chance to read “The Red Pony”. But just like the rest of us, Lester can’t live his dream. No, Lester doesn’t get the quiet life he craves. Instead, he finds himself in his own personal living hell. Lester is stuck with a lifestyle full of high adventure, supermodels who crave him, and millions of dollars in the bank. At least he has good friends, including Apache Dick and the Dick family, adventurers who seem to have the ability to produce exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.
The Trouble With Girls ran for 41 issues between the late ’80s and early ’90s. It was a cult series that had its passionate readers but which was missed by many other readers during that bust-boom-bust era. The clever inversion of the heroic ideal of Lester Girls was a refreshing change from the bombastic comics that appeared in that era; while Rob Liefeld’s comics were ever more over-the-top, Trouble With Girls provided equal dollops of high adventure and humor in a way that’s respectful to each genre.
It’s great for Checker Books to bring this cult classic back in print, because the stories feel just as fresh and inventive as they did twenty years ago. The stories are just plain fun, packed with wonderfully implausible scenes that seem like outtakes from an unproduced James Bond film. There’s a scene in the first issue in this collection where Girls is making love to a beautiful girl at the same instant he’s under attack by ninjas. I love the girl’s line in that scene about firing his seventh shot. “Don’t stop,” indeed.
Jacobs and Jones are professional comedy writers, famed for their outstanding work on National Lampoon and other satirical magazines, and it’s the professionalism of the two men that prevents this from being a one-joke series. Amazingly, the humor gets deeper and more satisfying as the books move on. The character of Maxi Scoops, a reporter on Lester’s trail, is shown in ever more and more depth as the book proceeds, and she evolves from a Lois Lane-like snoop into a character with some real depth.
The most clever sequence in the books to me details Lester’s return to his home town of Dullsville, For a dozen issues Lester had described the town as a perfect Normal Rockwell town, full of quiet, honest people living in pink houses behind white picket fences. The girl of his dreams, Brett, was fated to be a mousy accountant. However, her life took an ironic and funny turn, completely subverting both Lester’s image of her and the reader’s perception of Lester. Meanwhile other characters parade past, describing their broken marriages, radical experiences, and anxiousness to get out of the town. Jacobs and Jones do a wonderful job of satirizing the nostalgia that we all feel for bygone days when it seemed things were better and the old hometown was better than big city life. In the end, the story has an oddly poignant feel to it. Lester had dreamed forever of something that ended up not happening; the disappointment would be crushing for a normal man. Maybe book three will show his reactions to it.
The only real negative of the book is Tim Hamilton’s rough artwork. At that time, Hamilton wasn’t a polished cartoonist, and his art doesn’t quite match the quality of the story. He doesn’t vary camera angles, backgrounds are sparse, and the storytelling is not slick.
But the art can be forgiven when the stories sparkle so wonderfully with originality and energy. These stories are lost classics and are tremendously fun to boot.