"A Waste of Time" #1, a new regular series from Rick Worley, the creator of the webcomic of the same name, is anything but. It's an portrait of a creator who is struggling to come to terms with what it means to be an artist in a world where the art is becoming increasingly difficult to be the thing thatÂ supplements one's life and ability to live. The conversations found within the pages are at turns cynical, sad, sober, funny, angry, thought provoking, but never boring.
Worley layers different narratives on top of one another to create a story about a story, and then a story about the story about the story. Worley uses The Rabbit as his avatar to have a discussion about the eternal struggle of any American artist, artist vs. commerce, with the aptly named Capitalist Pig. As they discuss the nature of art and life, Rabbit and Pig work together to develop a strip about Rickets the Robot and his creation Prester the Bear. Rabbit's attempt to create art that is more specific to the people that already enjoy his art is incredibly funny -- the very art that isÂ supposed to be aggressive and angry comes off shy and wanting to be loved. This may be the only time you sayÂ "well, that's adorable" to a scene about an octopus tentacle-raping a bear. Kudos to Worley for creating a book that allowed me to write a sentence like that and have it mean something.
As this unfolds Rickets and Preseter begin their non-committal dance of secret drunken hookups. There is more to this story as the book starts in the future with the two of these characters embarking on a journey together before jetting backwards to the present for both sides of the narrative. The structure is a little confusing as the pieces and focus alternate with a disjointed pace, sometimes jumping back and forth on the same page withoutÂ much visual distinction to convey the setting change. Both halves have interesting things going on, and it may even be a shortcoming in my own reading comprehension but I found myself stopping to reset where I thought we were in each tale. Worley is playing at a bigger game with the book, as told by himself in theÂ back matter, so I have to assume this will make more sense as the tale unfolds across future issues. Other than that his style is clean and cute. He has a great sense of composition within panels, using light and design for maximum storytelling and comedic effect. One of my favorite gags in the book was theÂ realistic portrayal of a boy blowing bubbles in his drink as Pig explains that not everyone's best skill is aÂ commodifiable one. Persimmon, the tentacle raping octopus, is a great design, showing visually that Rabbit seems to lack the cynical edge needed to exploit the emotions and pocketbooks of his audience.
Though the price is a little steep,Â "A Waste of Time" #1 is a solid pick if you'reÂ looking to try something new. Worley has something to say, and he is using his art to expose his feelings in a very bare bones way that is pretty brave in terms of emotional exposure. It will be interesting to see what he lands on as his message once he finds it.