Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
I’ve been interviewing comic creators since late 1999–and I periodically like to read other people’s interviews to see nuances and angles I may be overlooking. One interviewer that always engages my interest and challenges me to reconsider my approach is Robot 6 co-conspirator Chris Mautner. Mautner is widely read and respected because of his talent and because of the myriad publications that offer him a forum.
This week, over at The Comics Journal, Mautner caught up with Operation Margarine’s Katie Skelly. Having interviewed her myself in April, I was eager to see what ground Mautner covered that I had not. He did not disappoint.
Katie Skelly‘s previous comic book Nurse Nurse was a science fiction epic, set in the far-flung future, involving space travel and space pirates, and featuring some kicky fashions. It earned and deserved its comparisons to Barbarella, even if what the two shared was more a spirit and tone than anything else.
Her latest book, Operation Margarine, is also something of a genre work, although the genre is quite literally a more down-to-earth one. Something between a cautionary, youth-gone-wild flick and an exploitative biker picture, it suggests the sort of movies that Roger Corman used to produce for the drive-in, that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would mock and that Quentin Tarantino might enthusiastically praise and make some allusion to in one of his own films.
But, like Nurse Nurse, it’s all unmistakably Katie Skelly. The characters are quiet, mysterious and only barely sketched out symbol-people. The events flow like dominoes, with no grand plan or theme or message apparent. The thrills are visceral, surface thrills, the action and actions all communicated in a straightforward manner that gives every panel an equal amount of import.
Her narrative focus has shifted from Nurse Nurse‘s futuristic sci-fi vibe to the motorcycle road trip (and accompanying drama as well as conflict, plus a few nuns) of Operation Margarine. It was a delightful surprise to learn her new work’s connection to Roland Barthes’ Mythologies.
AdHouse announced last summer their plans to publish a collection of Operation Margarine, Katie Skelly’s follow-up to the delightful Nurse Nurse, one of my favorites from 2012. And now it’s got a release date — April 2014.
Like Nurse Nurse, Operation Margarine began life as a series of self-published comics. Here’s a synopsis from the publisher’s site: “Trouble tuff girl Bon-Bon and rich girl runaway Margarine make a motorcycle escape from the mean streets of the city to the desolate roads of the desert, holding their own against the elements, biker gangs, and each other.”
Check out a preview of the book below.