Robot 6

The Middle Ground #40: So Kick Off Your Shoes, And Feel Some Kind of Free

I’m having one of those weeks where comics just make me happy.

Sure, there’s a lot to be cynical about: 15 mini-series to tie in with Flashpoint, for example, or Marvel apparently trying to trademark a name that’s already been used by two other publishers, but they can’t break my comic-loving heart, as much as they may try. No, this is a week where everything is coming up roses, and it’s all because of two new series – unusually for me, both online.

Those who follow me on Twitter already know about my love for both Gingerbread Girl and Bucko, I’m sure. The first is the online serialization of the new graphic novel by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, and the second a new webcomic by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen. It’s tempting to draw parallels between the two: Each is the creation of members of Portland’s Periscope Studios, Parker and Tobin have both made names for themselves in the mainstream by being completely underrated writers for Marvel’s Adventures line (as well as Agents of ATLAS, Hulk, Spider-Girl and my favorite even if no-one else agrees, Models, Inc, amongst others), and both on first viewing look like steps away from superheroes and into something approaching… what? A more down-to-earth, realistic comedy, perhaps? But that’d be unfair to both, and more importantly missing the point, which is these are really good comics, people.

Clearly, I’m getting old and jaded – If you’ve ever read anything else I’ve ever written, I’d like to think that that’s obvious – but I still can’t help but fall for something that is just alive with possibility and fun. Both strips are… I don’t know how to describe it, properly: Exciting because their creators are excited by them, if that makes sense? There’s a glee that’s evident in both, an eagerness to tell this particular story and a verve that comes out because of that, something that’s completely contagious and makes both must-reads after their very first episodes. There’s no nervousness or awkward openings; both open in such a way that you know the flavor of the story, even if you don’t know the details just yet (Fittingly, smartly, Annah from Gingerbread Girl finished the first episode with “I’m a tease“), and that alone speaks to the talent, confidence and just style that’s going on behind the scenes in both strips.

I won’t lie; it helps that both are funny and smart, and set in Portland. What can I say? I’m a sucker for my adopted town, as well as things that don’t insult my intelligence while they entertain me (I don’t have any idea where either story is going in the slightest, but I’m enjoying the journey so much that that’s a plus: I want to be surprised and, maybe most importantly, I have faith that I will be, and not in a bad way, here). And the art… Man, if there’s someone who doesn’t realize why both Coover and Moen are the kinds of cartoonists that people should be studied, adored and quietly worshipped by lesser mortals, then clearly they haven’t seen their work. Both just do stuff that jumps off the page and makes you want to live in worlds that really look like that.

Bucko only launched today; you can read it here, and Gingerbread Girl is being serialized as part of Top Shelf’s Top Shelf 2.0, and can be found here. I’m not promising that you’ll love both as much as I do, but I’ll definitely promise that they’re both well worth checking out.



Gingerbread Girl does look like it may just be THAT good, yes. (I’m waiting to read the whole thing at once.) I hate to ruin it by building my expectations too high. You aren’t helping here, obviously, McMillan. ;-)

Looking forward to getting Gingerbread Girl in dead-tree. And I thought that Models Inc was pretty good.

Utter dreck, except for Coovers cute art, why any soul would want to read these stories is beyond me.

Reading about the lives of ordinary people is so 2002, people. I mean seriously, in the future promote something worthwhile, something with substance, other than these trite representations of life.

Slice of life is an underrepresented genre in American comics, unfortunately. It seems that some people don’t understand how to enjoy a comic that’s devoid of people in spandex punching each other through buildings.

Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll definitely give these a shot.

Yes, only genre stories from now on, for ever and ever! If it doesn’t involve spies, zombies, curses, or orcs say “Noooo thank you!” And Trey wasn’t being flippant enough. Not only is reading about ordinary people “so 2002″ it’s more like it’s so March 9th, 2002. The rest of the world got sick of reading that stuff before a quarter of the year went by.
Trey, your expert analysis of this work spoke to me. You should start a blog so you can tell us how you *really* feel.
On a serious note, keep posting whatever you think is good Graeme. The first three pages of that Coover/Tobin piece didn’t grab me, but I did like Bucko.

Now, this is much more the kind of thing to help keep my expectations in check. Thanks so much everyone. :D

Both have great art. Maybe it’s a little too early to make a judgment on the story. I guess that’s up to the individual though. I know I’ve certainly not been hooked by a single issue before, and decided I didn’t really care where the characters were going, but I think that might be a little different from reading what would amount to somewhere between four pages.

Having a wider range of genres available within comics is never a bad thing.

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