Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
This month I am posting a review of a different self-published comic book each day for the rest of the month! Here is an archive of the books reviewed so far!
Today I’m featuring Jim Campbell’s Krachmacher #1.
Krachmacher is an odd comic, and in this case, you can basically figure this out by looking at the cover, so yeah, you essentially CAN judge this particular book by its cover. However, while the cover (and book) is odd, it also is filled with a sort of humanistic charm that makes it still worth giving a look.
Krachmacher #1 is a collection of three stories by Campbell.
The first one continues right from the cover (the cover is essentially the first page of the story), and it depicts a college girl and her three guy friends as well as another college girl who is too incredibly perfect.
Marianne (the protagonist) cannot seem to do anything right, while Elke (the other girl) seems to do EVERYthing right.
Campbell, especially with his art, captures the nervous energy of someone who is invited along with a group of people but is never absolutely sure they WANT her along.
After all, if she thinks she pales to Elke, what do OTHERS think?
Why do they want to hang out with her? She’s not funny, she’s not interesting, she’s not beautiful…why do they want to hang out with her?
All of that gangly goodness is achieved to perfection with Campbell’s art (heck, just look at that cover! Look at the guarded way she bites into her sandwich….what great stuff).
In addition, when Marianne gets nervous, she tells stories…stories that sound absolutely way too bizarre to be true (including being forced by her parents to scrounge up her own dinner as a child by whatever is around their boat), but Campbell makes a point not to tell us whether these stories are true. It is almost as though Marianne CHOOSES to tell these stories to make people think she is a freak because she thinks they ALREADY think that, so she wishes to at least give them good reason to think she is one. However, while that might be her motivation, we are never told that specifically – it could be that these outlandish stories ARE legit.
In fact, by the end of the issue, as the group all find themselves trapped at a beach, we learn that there IS something out there…and maybe Marianne’s stories are NOT that unbelievable.
Definitely makes you interested in the next issue, although the story is told awfully slowly so that just when you become really invested in the story, the tales for this issue.
The second story is a goofy story about an old man fighting against a robot trying to take over the world.
The final story is a creepily funny story about a dude who wears a wolf hat and hangs out with a piece of meat that “talks” to him. Think about the Son of Sam as a comedic character (sans killing, of course….so far).
Some certainly trippy stories here, but also entertaining ones.
So when you look at the work as a whole, you have an engaging lead story that unfolds perhaps a bit too slowly, plus two quicker paced, fun, but much slighter back-up stories. When looking at the comic as a whole, I guess I would end up saying…
Slightly Recommended (that always sounds much worse than it is intended – any time I recommend a comic, I mean it is as a compliment – but at the same time, obviously there are going to be varying levels of recommendations, every book I recommend is not at the same level – so this is just differentiating between good comics, the key part is that they ARE a good comic, whether it be as good as some other book, the key is that I AM recommending it).
Here‘s Jim Campbell’s web site, where you can order this and the next two issues of Krachmacher.
If you would like to participate in the month with your self-published comic, there might still be time (depending on how fast you mail out comics). Just check out the Review Copies section to see where to mail a review copy of your comic.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.