Monday, February 18, 2008

Review: glamourpuss #1

Having read the Cerebus phonebooks in their entirety, I'm already aware that Dave Sim is two parts genius and one part madman. His exquisite artwork (ably assisted by Gerhard, of course) on Cerebus was a constant even when the narrative went off the rails and into more difficult Reads. Suffice to say, you can always be sure of beautiful artwork in a Dave Sim comic, just as you can always count on a...highly unusual reading experience. Conceptually and tonally, glamourpuss couldn't be more different from Cerebus, but it is indeed a lushly illustrated, deeply strange and very much "Dave Sim" read.

My local comic store, Bargain Comics, was kind enough to let me read their copy of the Exclusive Comic Industry Preview Edition of glamourpuss #1, last week, and it is literally like nothing I've seen before. It is, in the main, a sketchbook; a working diary in narrative form. In the text, Sim is candid about his goals:

"When people ask me if I have anything planned after Cerebus, this is about all that comes to mind: Cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson style."

"Interesting, Dave. But what would the book be about?"

"I just told you. Cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson style."

"If I think of anything story-wise (which isn't likely to happen), I'll let you know."

Let that serve as the manifesto and the mission statement of glamorpuss. Sim spends his 30 pages practicing his best Al Williamson, Alex Raymond, and John Prentice* impersonations, explaining their use of delicate brushwork, how it was often lost in the crude printings the strip received, and his struggles to incorporate their styles into his own art. Mixed among that, we also get the deep, insightful, and altogether-too-fashionable ruminations of N'atashe, An origin of glamourpuss, Doctor Norm's candid, in-comic analysis of glamourpuss, and Skanko's Dating Guide, all of which are parodic looks at models, fashion, pop psychology, and other subjects that I'm equally unfamiliar with. Sim's notorious misogyny seems more-or-less in check, skewering at a target, the fashion industry in general and cold, imperious models in particular, that most can agree are equally fascinating and ludicrous.

So, recommended with an "if", or panned with a "but"? I recommend glamourpuss IF you have an appetite for well drawn pretty, impossibly fashionable girls served up with a heapng helping of art theory and a side of fashioniosta satire. Weird, but not bad.

*Sucessor to Alex Raymond on Rip Kirby after Raymond's unexpected death.


philippos42 said...

I, on the other hand, have no prior attachment to Mr Sim, but love Al Williamson. And supermodels.

Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

Al Williamson is dead?
Do you mean Prentice took over for Raymond after he died?

Brian Hughes said...

Gah!! No, Al Williamson is FINE. I fixed the error. Alex Raymond was killed in a car crash in September 1956. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who prefered Cerebus AFTER he met Dave Sim in space???

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I would think so. Cerebus is waaaay better in the early days, not too early though. I think issues 40 to 150 are just about one of the best runs in history for consistency, humor, depth of character, art and overall thematic exploration.

Anonymous said...

This is a great comic! I can't seem to put them down. Nor does it seem the local comic shop can keep them in stock. I love humor and the quick references to the comic world and books. Its a must have!

wentworth said...

Who is John Prentice? I never heard of him? Can you give a link?

Brian Hughes said...

Here ya go:

wentworth said...

Great ! Thanks!