I’ve had a bit of a “love/hate” relationship with “glamourpuss” until this point. Now, the scale always went more towards the “love” side of things thanks to Dave Sim’s gorgeous black and white photorealistic depictions of fashion models and Alex Raymond artwork, and Sim’s ongoing exploration of Raymond’s work. The “hate” side of things came in with the fashion magazine parody elements of the book. There have been the odd amusing moments, but most either fall flat or are difficult to make out exactly what is being satirized. Thankfully, this issue actually delivers on that front a bit.
Sim’s sense of humor works here as the issue kicks off with the first of five promised preview pages for the new title “glamourtween,” a book devoted to glamourpuss’ (the fashion model the comic is named after) tween years with the lead story “Glamourtween has Four Mommies,” which is so absurd and over-the-top in its description of crack addicts and mid-operation trans-gendered persons than it can’t help but exhort a snort.
Sim follows this up not with four more preview pages, but a two-page illustration of Cerebus behind the wheel of a Porsche in the parking lot of Our Lady of Perpetual Theatrics Cathedral. The contrast of Cerebus and the detailed car is wonderfully absurd and that it’s included as a distraction from the promised preview pages is pretty funny.
Sim’s intended target in this issue is various age-defying products, which he takes to task by using quotes and advertisements (real and fake), and a mock-horror story entitled “The Thinker.” Not everything lands, but enough of it does to make these portions of the issue worthwhile.
The real draw here is Sim’s continuing exploration of Alex Raymond’s photorealistic style, which Sim concludes in this issue by reproducing five of his favorite “Rip Kirby” strips (with a thanks above each to Heritage Auction Galleries for their scans of strips) and discussing what about each makes them his favorite. Here, it may be best to pull out the previous four issues of “glamourpuss” as Sim references them quite heavily, these analyses acting as a summation of everything he’s discussed so far.
Sim deserves quite a bit of credit for his ability to write about Raymond’s art in such an open and easy-to-understand manner. I have little familiarity with art techniques, particularly those involving inking, but I’ve yet to find anything Sim discusses beyond my comprehension. These analyses could easily have turned into discussion that only other artists could follow, but Sim never allows them, he’s always mindful of non-artist readers.
Sim’s art is as amazing as ever here. His detailed lines are very realistic, but don’t simply copy photos. He makes clear choices in the techniques he uses to draw the models found in fashion magazines and the results are breathtaking at times.
This issue not only offers some improved fashion magazine parody contents, but also concludes Sim’s thorough analysis of and theorizing on Alex Raymond’s photorealistic style (and its evolution over the years). That doesn’t mean Sim is done, just that he’s ready to move past Raymond and onto those who Raymond not only influenced, but those who took Raymond’s techniques and made Raymond evolve to keep up.