Review time! with Gup #1
A while back I received Gup #1 from its creator, Josh Weisbrod, and I’d like to thank him for it. Weisbrod describes it as a “surrealistic murder mystery/comedy,” and it’s certainly that – this is a rather odd comic. But we’re all about odd here at CSBG, right?
You can see some of the weirdness on the cover. The girl (Michelle) doesn’t realize the dog is dead, while the mustached dude (Gup) says nothing but “honk.” Plus, he carries a mallet around. Gup is a superhero of sorts, and Michelle is his adopted daughter. They solve mysteries and stop crimes!
Michelle is involved in a high school rivalry with a girl named Beverly, and they constantly try to one-up each other (early on, it’s enough that Beverly takes off her jacket – she’s the attractive one – but Michelle raises the stakes!). A supervillain, Mr. Lipstick, asks for Michelle and Gup’s help trying to find the murderer of his dog, Sparkles Henderson, which earns her major points at school. Beverly, incensed, decides to dig into Michelle’s background with the help of a local cop (her father is a policeman, so she knows some of the cops). I certainly don’t want to spoil the story, but things get a bit weird, with Beverly suspecting Michelle of murder, Mr. Lipstick showing his true colors, and a cop taking advantage of an illegal search to find true love. In a back-up story, it appears a woman murders her own son just so she can meet Gup, on whom she has a disturbing crush.
Weisbrod’s writing style is difficult to critique, because I can’t really be sure if some of the deficiencies are because of bad writing or because of the disjointed way he tells the story. He kind of throws stuff into the writing that seems very off-kilter, but because of the tone of the book, it’s probably deliberate. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just that it wouldn’t work in a more traditional narrative, but because the actual story is so surreal, it doesn’t seem out of place in the book. I had only a few problems with the book – Michelle, the nominal star, seems like as big a bitch as Beverly, so I didn’t really care too much about her, and the book’s not as funny as I would have liked, but humor is so subjective that a criticism like that is almost meaningless. I like the surreal aspect of the book – things just happen, and in this bizarre universe Weisbrod has created, they work – but I didn’t find it as funny as I think Weisbrod would like me to find it. You, of course, might find it hilarious.
Weisbrod’s art is, perhaps not surprisingly, quite rough, but it has a weird charm to it. He does a nice job laying out pages, actually, and there are some nice visual clues that a less talented artist might have skipped. His characters are well designed and interesting, and the art has a much more interesting sense of whimsical humor than the script does. Weisbrod does a nice job with facial expressions and body movement to define the characters, even more than he does with their dialogue. There are some really nice pages – the one where Michelle is trying to wake up after being knocked unconscious is particularly well done. Weisbrod has some problems with perspective and with fitting everything nicely into panels, but you can tell that he knows what he’s doing and can tell a story well through pictures.
You can find Gup in New York, because everyone knows that New York is the only damned city on the planet that matters, but you can also get it on-line, of course. You can go here to buy it and check out three pages of previews (including the one I mentioned above as being done very well), if you’re so inclined. It’s not a great comic, but it’s pretty good and it’s different than what you’d expect, and that’s always neat to see.