Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Oh, Red Ketchup, how do I love you? Let me count the ways.
You’ve overcome huge obstacles. The albino son of an abusive, hulking Nazi sympathizer who made you play chicken on the train tracks to strengthen your resolve, you’ve managed to channel your aggression into your job as an FBI agent, helping make the world safe for democracy.
You’re a man of action. When a star NFL quarterback is accused of dealing drugs, there’s no need for niceties. Just tackle that sucker and handcuff him right there on the football field in the middle of the game (making sure you keep the drugs for yourself, of course).
You do what it takes to get the job done. Even when that means taking out one of your evil clones with a spear before he can assassinate the Pope.
You don’t like penguins.
You’re a member of the Knights Templar. And possibly the reincarnation of a legendary medieval knight, although you seem a little unclear at times of what your knightly duties entail:
You really don’t like penguins.
In short, Red Ketchup, you are a completely insane, drug-swilling, unstoppable force that will mow down anything that stands between you and your goals without a second thought, especially if said goals happen to be drugs. Too dense to be truly evil or corrupt, you’re more like an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction and heaven help anyone who doesn’t have the wisdom to step out of your line of fire.
And in case you haven’t guessed yet, Red Ketchup is a hilarious, over-the-top parody of the uber-macho heroes of the 1980s, the sort of flag-waving, individualistic heroism Schwarzenegger and Stallone frequently put on display in films like Commando and Cobra, but with liberal dollops of political satire for good measure. The absurdist level of lengths Ketchup goes to is truly inspiring. Arnold and Sly might have foiled terrorist plots, but when Ketchup stops a terrorist, he does it by hijacking a plane and then landing it on the National Mall:
Unfortunately, my love for Red Ketchup hampered by a language barrier. Created in the 1980s by French-Canadian cartoonists Real Godbout and Pierre Fournier, Ketchup’s adventures have never been translated into English (although Canadian publisher La Pasteque has a nice hardcover volume that’s easily available for polyglots). Would that some enterprising American publisher opted to bring his tales to a less-bilingual readership, so I can enjoy all his octopus-punching action without having to reach for my English-French dictionary.
God bless you, Red Ketchup. For keeping our country safe from commie octopuses, penguins and other left-leaning animals. Mayhap some day you’ll be punching in English. We can only hope.
For more on Red Ketchup and his secret origins, check out this blog.