It may come as a surprise to some folks, but even I can’t keep current on everything I’m interested in! So, when I actually got some free time recently, I dug into my stack of unread trades and pulled out some stories about women that I hadn’t yet experienced. I thought I’d share my reactions to them with you this week, but be warned – they were released some time ago!
1. Hopeless Savages Greatest Hits from Oni Press.
Here’s the description: “It’s the totally swerval return of the First Family of Punk! Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage went from the parties, touring, and recording studios of rock stardom to the quiet of the suburbs, but that’s no reason they can’t still be themselves. Join Dirk and Nikki, along with their kids—Rat, Arsenal, Twitch, and Zero—as they bounce their way through kidnapping plots, first love, and international intrigue in this massive collection of the Eisner Award-nominated series!”
The trade paperback features stories drawn by several artists, but most of it centers around the writing of Jen Van Meter. She’s written other comics, including issues of JSA Classified and Outsiders for DC Comics, and contributed stories to Marvel’s Captain America #50, for instance. But Hopeless Savages is where she got her start.
I’m drawn to subjects and stories I haven’t experienced before, so when Oni Press published this trade, I ordered it. It’s black and white, not color, and the shifting in artists may not work for some, but it didn’t bother me.
What intrigued me was that the stories tend to be girl-centric (I say “girl” because it is aimed at teens) and the family life of the Savages is, at first glance, completely different from what I grew up with. I wanted to see what life from another perspective was like, and this trade helped me understand how things might go for a “rocking” family.
The stories include a lot of techno-gadgets that teens are very used to, including texting and shooting one’s own video describing what is happening in one’s life.
What I came away with is the idea that a family is still a family, whether one is a budding rock star or if one grew up in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania as I did. The camaraderie, the support, the acceptance, the love … it isn’t dependent on spiked hair or even conservative values. It’s still a family.
Teen readers will likely focus more on the goings-on and relationships, but the above message I got really was an important one, so I’ll keep reading new material as it becomes available.
By the way, I often like what Oni Press offers, which is something different for me to read! Variety is very important to me, so I often will buy their offerings just to find something unique!
2. Miss Don’t Touch Me, volumes 1 and 2. (Okay, time for the kiddies to leave the room!)
Here’s this book’s description: “Paris in the thirties. The ‘Butcher of the Dances’ is on the prowl for young loose women. Blanche works as a maid along with the only family she knows, her sister, fun-loving Agatha. Suddenly, Blanche loses her to what she saw was murder but others only write off as suicide. She decides to take matters into her own hands. In her pursuit, she ends up hired into a luxury house of call-girls. She even becomes quite good at certain lascivious practices while still remaining a virgin! But she also doesn’t lose sight of her goal: find the Butcher.”
Based on the story subject matter, I very likely wouldn’t have picked these books up on my own. But a friend with similar taste to mine recommended them to me, so I gave them a go.
The first volume is set in the 1930s and deals with a virgin who’s friend is killed, so she joins a brothel in order to find out who murdered her. A great deal of time in both volumes is actually spent in the “luxury house,” and we learn just how the girls there interact with each other. Some earn their own bedrooms, while others sleep in community rooms. Some are favored, others are not. And if one steps out of line too often, that girl gets sent out on her own.
Blanche earns the title of “Miss Don’t Touch Me” because she doesn’t want to lose her virginity with a trick, as it were. She discovers that she has skills she never knew she had, being a dominatrix, which helps if you don’t want anyone to touch you. She just orders them to stay away from her.
A novice detective, Blanche stumbles along in her investigation, but finds help from an unlikely source. When all is revealed in volume 1, it’s an interesting revelation.
In the second edition, Blanche is considering leaving her employment when she encounters a man who hires her, but who only wants to sit and talk with her. Before long, Blanche goes on outings with him and receives a marriage proposal from him, but dark secrets are waiting to be discovered.
Also, Blanche’s mother shows up, and she isn’t quite the loving mother Blanche would like her to be. She’s very much the user, and before all is said and done, Blanche is left at the brothel without any means to leave although both her beau and her mother are long gone.
I found the artwork and lettering very tough to muddle through at first. I was also put off by the whole environment of the book. But before long, I began to find myself drawn into Blanche’s world, and though I’d love for future editions to have typographic lettering instead of hand-drawn words, I found these to be a satisfying read.
We’ll see when I next get the chance to whittle my “get to” stack of trades down further! If I find more quality material, I’ll be sure to share that with you!