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Book Review < Back

The One Trick Rip-Off

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Paul Pope
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Commentary

The two ragamuffin thugs at the heart of Paul Pope's THE ONE TRICK RIP-OFF are named Tubby and Vim - cognominal tags not quite matching their characters (Vim tends to be saucer-eyed cautious and Tubby is anything but) yet accurately describing cartoonist Pope's work with a kind of fumbling honesty expressed through baroque erudition.

A crime story at its most superficial, THE ONE TRICK RIP-OFF follows the aforementioned Tubby and Vim, young lovers on the verge of stealing a whole lot of money from their fellow thieves, a gang called the One Tricks. And, as is want to happen to young lovers on the verge of stealing a whole lot of money from their fellow thieves, everything that can go wrong does and does so in spades. Tubby is all plans and guts, Vim careful and resourceful in a pinch when everything goes wrong as the story careens on its wild way. Pope effortlessly intermingles the pulpy spine of his tale while keeping the proceedings pregnant with a heady, cigarettes and coffee-kind of atmosphere - even when the story takes us into the desert, Pope's desert is somehow thick with mood and tone.

THE ONE TRICK RIP-OFF sits in the middle of Pope's developing idiom, somewhere between the stoic, formal European flavor of The Ballad of Doctor Richardson and the worldly pop mania of Escapo or Heavy Liquid. In these pages we see him shaking off the traditions of western comics and start taking big, broad chances in the fat sweeps of his brush. Somehow, maintaining the balance between that and the taut requirements of his crime plot, Pope pulls it all off and manages to make something new in the process.

-- Matt Fraction

 
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.

 


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