cover image The One Trick Rip-Off

The One Trick Rip-Off

Paul Pope. Dark Horse Comics, $12.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-1-56971-244-3

Winner of the comics industry's prestigious Eisner Award for his THB series, Pope deftly presents a moving narrative of violence and hope in his latest graphic novel. Although urban gang clashes are a well-worn plot device, he breaks engaging new ground with a story that encompasses both treachery and tenderness with fundamental honesty. The One Tricks are an ethnically mixed gang operating in one of the many folds of L.A.'s underbelly. Their intramural and extramural conflicts are sparked not by stereotypical issues of drugs, turf or race, but by the lure of money. The chance to make off with $40,000 is enough to pit gang against gang; a quarter of a million turns out to be enough to break the unity of the One Tricks themselves. Money also is the ladder that courageous Tubby and his girlfriend, beautiful but insecure Vim, hope to climb to escape gang life. Though both are tough street fighters, their gentle moments are firmly grounded in their individual vulnerabilities. Pope's artwork is rich in selective detail. His figures, rendered with almost calligraphic fluidity, move through settings that can be airy and light or as crisp and dense as woodcuts. (May)