Here is my take on a good description of Josh Cotter’s brilliant series Skyscrapers of the Midwest (published by AdHouse Books)….”Reading Skyscrapers of the Midwest makes you want to kill yourself…but in a good way.”
Skyscrapers of the Midwest is an absolutely brutal comic book. Cotter’s writing essentially plunges into your chest, grabs your heart, squishes it around a bit, then puts it back, leaving you quesy, but still eagerly awaiting the next issue, so you can go through it all over again.
Skyscrapers of the Midwest is about a group of anthropomorphic cats who live in the midwest in the late 80s. The main lead of the comic is a young, chubby, nerdy boy with a toy robot who has a little brother with a toy Tyrannosaurus Rex. The toys are fairly important, as occasionally, Cotter has segues involving the toy robot, only giant-sized. I gotta say, as much as I love this book, and hey, I’ll let Cotter do whatever the heck he wants for a couple of pages here and there when the rest of the book is as excellent as it is, but man, do I not dig the giant robot segues.
Last issue, Cotter had an extremely clever bit where he told the story for awhile in the format of the Funny Pages. Each “strip” would be in the style of an actual comic strip, but also continue the story in the comic, without missing a beat. While the phrase seems a bit overdone, I think I will still call it “masterful,” because damned if it wasn’t impressive.
This issue, the comic is wrapped around the framing sequence of a school yearbook. This allows Cotter to do yearbook photos, captions and stories, but with his particular sick brand of humor. In addition, the signature page at the end of the book? Exquisite.
I haven’t talked much of Cotter’s artwork, as his writing is the key to the book, but his artwork is good as well. His ability to capture expressions in human-like cats is quite accomplished. And this story calls for a broad range of emotions.
Anyhow, this particular issue centers around our young protagonist and his crush, and how unfair life can be to a nerdy fat kid with a crush on a popular girl. Cotter just nails personalities so well – the kid who hangs out with the nerdy kid because he, too, is unpopular, but that unpopularity is the only reason he hangs out with the nerdy kid – and he could (and WILL) turn on the nerd at the faintest glimpse of interest from popular kids. You have the younger brother of the nerd, who is so happy-go-lucky, he gets the brunt of his brother’s rage at being picked on – it’s so unfair, but so realistic.
Add to all this the bonus letter column, which is answered by a cowboy who comes on to the teen girl asking him for advice and admonishes the male teen for asking about buying promise rings, and you just have way too much goodness for one comic book.
So I would certainly recommend this comic, with the ever small reservation that I don’t like the giant robot segues, but I feel dishonest calling that a “reservation” – as it is soooo outweighed by the greatness of the rest of the comic.
Buy this comic, folks!
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