Iím not an expert on Dave Sim, but this being his first major work since the completion of his lifeís work, Cerebus, it seemed like an interesting thing to check out. No matter what your views about his controversial beliefs, he is definitely an incredible artist, and at this late period in his career, who knows what sort of craziness heíll deliver?
Well, this is certainly an odd work, demonstrating that Sim is just going to do whatever the hell he feels like, and who cares what anybody else thinks. In the first few pages, he states that his sole purpose with this project is to draw photo-realistic pictures of pretty girls, and thus explore the artistic styles of classic newspaper comics artists Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, John Prentice, and Neal Adams. He does so by tracing comics panels of theirs which have degraded over years of reproduction, and seeing if he can figure out the original intent of the artists. At the same time, he provides running commentary, filling the captions and word balloons.
In fact, at the risk of offending Eddie Campbell or other comics theorists, much of this issue might not even qualify as comics. Sure, thereís the combination words and pictures, but they donít really make a narrative or even match up. Itís more like an essay inserted within comics panels that have little to do with the words, and nothing to do with each other.
There is one section of the issue thatís definitely comics though, and thatís a series of pages of Sim actually trying to force a narrative of sorts on his pictures. In addition to tracing old comics panels, he also draws spreads from fashion magazines, and through the captions of a series of these full-page illustrations, he spins an amusing character study of what appears to be the eponymous character. Itís funny stuff, highlighting the vapidity and label-obsession of the fashion world, climaxing with a comparison between the usual anorexic supermodel and Gandhi. Itís definitely the best part of the issue, and who knows, maybe eventually Sim will move away from his artistic experimentation and try to develop the character and tell an actual story.
In the meantime, I donít know if I could really recommend this comic to anyone outside of what must be a small subset of comics readers, meeting in the center of a strange Venn diagram containing those interested in art methods (thereís plenty of discussion of brushes and pens, the kind of thing that makes my eyes glaze over), Dave Sim fans who donít get offended when he discusses women (he seems to avoid controversy for the most part, but when a noted misogynist touches on topics like anorexia, one wonders if a can of worms is being opened), and photo-realistic art enthusiasts (and it must be said that whatever you feel about the words, the art is spectacular). Or maybe itís just for those who are morbidly curious whether it will just be a train wreck.
What did you think of this book?
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