"One Trick Rip-Off & Deep Cuts" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written and Illustrated by Paul Pope
1995, 286 Pages
Graphic Novel published on January 16th, 2013
Paul Pope's journey through the comic book industry is long and varied. He's created stories both stateside and abroad, developing a unique style that is all his own. Image Comics has collected some of his early work in this new hardcover graphic novel. The book is split in two halves. The first part is dedicated to The One Trick Rip-Off, a serialized story that was originally published in Dark Horse Presents in the mid-‘90s. The rest of the comic is a variety of Pope's short comics that were created as he journeyed around the world with stops in Columbus, Toronto, Tokyo, and New York City.
The highlight of this hardcover is definitely The One Trick Rip-Off. It tells the story of Vim and Tubby, two young people that are madly in love. As a result, they make some truly stupid decisions. Tubby is in a gang called the One Tricks because they only know one trick, which turns out to be a hypnotizing ability that allows each member to make their enemies see or believe anything they tell them. For example, one of them tells a rival gang member that there's a snake wrapped around his neck and the guy falls down choking. Vim and Tubby plot to rob the One Tricks and make off with the loot, and start a new life together. Of course, this doesn't work out and lots of people die. You know, just your basic relationship with young people.
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The tragedy of Tubby and Vim is touching and infuriating. Neither of them see the bigger picture or how their actions might affect the other people around them. They are so into each other that those consequences are just blocked out. They create what they think is a perfect plan, but it is ultimately torn to shreds as events beyond their control begin to complicate matters.
Pope brings an intensity to the artwork in The One Trick Rip-Off. You can feel the love between Vim and Tubby as they look at each other. It's clear that they would do anything for the other person, including facing death itself.
The action is amped up with Pope's artistic style. Sound effects are as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. They surround characters and pull them through each panel. Pope explored the boundaries of the medium with this story.
The One Trick Rip-Off is very much a cult comic. It reminds me of old heist movies with a pinch of film noir mixed in. Vim's outfit at the end of the story – the same one that appears on the cover of this collection – looks like an homage to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, but Vim is a much kinder person than the characters in that film. That is, until she's pushed to defend Tubby. Then she'll quickly whip out a gun and take out anyone that stands in her way.
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The rest of this graphic novel is a variety of "Deep Cuts", which includes a wide sampling of short stories created by Pope. I really didn't care for most of them. I just didn't get them. Many of them are very artsy where many meanings could be pulled from its contents. That might be great for some people, but I like a story that's concise and provides a satisfying conclusion. The one title that stands out in Deep Cuts is Portrait of a Girl with an Unpronounceable Name. It tells the story of a tough guy that asks the artist to draw a picture of his dead wife. Pope retells the death of this woman that he's never met in such a beautiful manner. It blows away all of the heart from The One Trick Rip-Off in just a few pages and you don't even know the girl's name.
The One Trick Rip-Off and Deep Cuts is a great starting point for anyone interested in checking out the work of Paul Pope. I haven't read anything else by him, but this is a good starting point for Pope's work. The short stories weren't for me, but if you're looking for comics that are a little more hoity-toity, this is probably for you. Fortunately, The One Trick Rip-Off has plenty of action to keep things interesting.