Glamourpuss #3: Take 2

If you take what he writes at the beginning of issue #1 at face value, Dave Sim's intention when he set out to create what became Glamourpuss was to represent "cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson photo-realism style." Basically, the guy who wrote, drew and published Cerebus for near on three decades aimed to spend his middle years meticulously drawing latter-day Lolitas.

Dr. Flem

The first issue of this book was so exciting because the reader was essentially allowed to peer in on the creative process of one of the singular artists in the comics world and watch as his desire to draw jailbait grew into a more or less systematic essay on the history of photo-realistic technique in comics illustration framed in a satirical evaluation of fashion culture. Never mind that I knew nothing of the history of photo-realistic illustration or any of the artists mentioned, it was exciting to see that in the pages of Rip Kirby could be found the inspiration for the characters of Joe and Dr. Flem from Mike Allred's Madman series or even that one panel bore an uncanny resemblance to a scene of Vittorio de Sica and Daniel Darrieux dancing in Max Ophuls' The Earrings of Madame de . . .


The series' second issue expanded upon the whimsical seriousness of the first as Sim took the opportunity to pepper his continuing examination of comics illustration with long, humorous and yet deadly serious satires on issues of psychotropic medication and the commodification of sex and youth. As Brandon intimated in his own review of the third issue, issue #2 was a complicated (yet not exactly difficult) read, precisely because Sim seemed to carefully juxtapose the issues of large-scale clinical depression in post-industrial culture and the cheapening of romance with the issues that faced the overworked and under-appreciated pioneers of the comics medium. What could very easily have devolved into a seemingly fractured, undisciplined mash of content, instead comes together as something of a grand organic blending of wildly disparate thematic material into a seamless whole.

The Earrings of Madame de . . . ?

The series' third issue, on the other hand, has something of the feel of a throwaway--or at the very most a bridge issue. The main 'meat' of the issue is devoted to what at first might seem to be a considered close reading of a photograph depicting Rube Goldberg, Alex Raymond and Milt Caniff as Raymond is named the third president of the National Cartoonists Society. Sim's suggestions of veiled aggression in the handshake between Caniff and Raymond seems only mildly plausible on close inspection of the images. Sim follows his analysis of the photo with comparisons of illustrations of the two artists, suggesting that Raymond's apparent adoption of Caniff's style might be the source of the latter's ire. The whole presentation may have proved more informative and ultimately more successful if Sim had limited his analysis to an evaluation of the development of the art of the respective creators and set aside his speculations concerning petty rivalries.

The satirical aspect of the issue was similarly disappointing as Sim seems to have eschewed the more cerebral and fully fleshed circumlocutions of the first two issues with a series of single-page spoof ads knocking everything from the price of designer perfumes to the phenomenon of celebrity marriages. The problem here lies in the fact that what Sim is doing feels like nothing more than a hand-drawn, black-and-white issue of Adbusters. It isn't exactly that there is anything wrong with the sort of satire and social commentary peddled by Adbusters per se, it is just that they have been doing it for decades, which only seems to add to the notion that Dave Sim's is in many ways embarrassingly behind the times.

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