Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paul Pope

Several years ago I helped to start a collection of graphic novels at the library in San Francisco where one of my jobs is choosing and ordering art and literature books. Paul Pope's Heavy Liquid compilation arrived in hardcover for that collection recently. I could never hope to write a better description of this book than the one provided on the jacket flap, so will quote from it here: It's a future where New York has evolved into a sci-fi metropolis. "S," a man addicted to "heavy liquid," a substance that is both a drug and an art form, finds himself trapped in a mystery littered with love and drugs.

Paging through the cartoon-text I have to say that the "love and drugs" action actually seems pretty mild. This should come as no big surprise, considering that the publisher is DC Comics, an old-school, mainstream outfit if ever there was one. No, what strikes me most vividly about this whole project is the doctored-up author photo (at top, with yellow border). Without it I would never have understood that the trapped and addicted character "S" is – first and foremost – a projection of the author's own rampaging narcissism. The two of them even go to the same hairdresser.