cover image The One Trick Rip-Off / Deep Cuts

The One Trick Rip-Off / Deep Cuts

Paul Pope. Image, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60706-718-4

This collection of the earliest published works of Pope (Heavy Liquid, Batman 100) reveals a young cartoonist already “nearly fully formed.” At 22, Pope’s bravado was matched by an actual ability that is rare at that age. These short stories, which were created between 1993 and 1996, were created at the same time Pope’s THB was capturing attention, and they highlight the confidence that he employed in his work. The offerings range from gritty slacker crime drama to mysterious illustrated poetry, as well as the comedic, girlie grossness of “Super Trouble,” which may be the most successful story in the book, thanks to its mix of all the elements that define Pope. There is something here for any taste, though, and Pope’s artwork, regardless of genre, is always impeccable, pulling from his European influences like Hugo Pratt and finessing that with scrappy, urban grime. At times it resembles a Gilbert Hernandez with less abstract narrative tendencies. Pope’s comics are certainly more Godard than Kirby, and that foreign movie tone sets him apart. There’s no fumbling in his experimentation, and it’s apparent he started out several steps ahead of most young cartoonists in understanding the creative road he wanted to walk and setting off down that road with confidence. (Feb.)