BEG THE QUESTION

Bob Fingerman, Author
Bob Fingerman, Author . Fantagraphics $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-56097-502-1
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-1-56097-685-1
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In this revision and expansion of Fingerman's acclaimed Minimum Wage series, the artist offers 40 pages of retouched and redrawn panels, enhanced by gray tones that add a rich tone and spatial volume to each drawing. Fingerman chronicles the daily lives of young lovers Rob Hoffman and Sylvia Fannucci and their motley crew of friends in 1990s Gotham. It's at once a veiled biography and convincing fiction. Rob makes his living drawing pornographic cartoons for an obese editor at Pork magazine, amusingly reminiscent of Screw magazine. Sylvia, a hairdresser, also writes, plays guitar and paints. Their friends are hipsters drawn from New York's dives and dead-end jobs, annoying yet comical. Rob and Sylvia are well developed characters, likeable despite plenty of obnoxious personal flaws. Wildly oversexed, the two can't keep their hands off each other. But when an unexpected pregnancy confronts them, readers learn of Rob's secret, violent psychological aversion to having children. Rob also struggles to jump-start his comics career, enduring humiliating interviews with art directors, and attends a comics convention complete with the requisite Star Trek nerds and Goth girls in spandex bikinis. Ridiculous subplots abound, from the jealous boyfriend of a topless dancer to the Martin Amis fan so obsessed with getting dozens of Amis autographs he becomes a borderline stalker. This is not a plot-driven book, but a daily chronicle of scuffling, artsy New Yorkers. They go to Coney Island on a blistering summer day, down burgers at White Castle, attend obligatory family gatherings and have sex, letting readers tag along. Fingerman's dialogue is biting and realistic, and his drawing is exceptional. (Apr.)

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