Apr 1, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 36: Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children volume 3, 1989


"Olga Schtump was a tap dancer, and not happy about it in the least." It's a lovely beginning to the "Diary of a Depressed Tap Dancer," though I'd have to say that's the high point of the story. Not to say it's a bad one, but, in contrast to the previous two stories, this one's a bit lacking. Key to this project it recognizing that, even if a comic is ostensibly part of a series I like, or written by people I really admire, not everything I read is going to be stellar.

There's a couple of things that stood out to me about this particular issue that made it a little less enjoyable than its predecessors. First, though the story is called a "Diary," it's actually told in the 3rd person. I know it's a little thing, but this kind of bugged me. Even had there been some indication that Olga talked about herself in the 3rd person, this would have cleared up my nitpicking, but there was nothing. I know, I know. Gotta let these things go sometimes. A larger problem I had was the lack of interaction between words and pictures in this issue. I've noted that in the previous two issues, we have the sort of interaction between these storytelling devices that is indicative of comics, but in this issue there was a decided dearth comics language. The pictures seemed merely (and that's not to say that they are in any way "mere" pictures) to illustrate the action of the words, more like a picture book than a comic. This is a problem for comics that are laid out this way. There's a Grant Morrison Batman that does this, and is more properly an illustrated prose story published in the comics pamphlet than a comic book proper. Whatever, of course, a "comic book proper" might be.

According to my database, I procured this issue relatively recently, which means I've probably never read it, or have read it only once. Perhaps a little bit of my reticence toward it comes from it not having the kind of nostalgic quality that infuses some of the BSFUC that I've had for almost 30 years. I'll have to factor that nostalgia idea into subsequent reviews.

So, there's that. I don't have much more to say about this issue. Tomorrow will be a slight detour as I do a reading of a comic based on my first ever READER SUGGESTION! Which is pretty cool. Taking this detour makes me wonder, though, if perhaps the BSFUC aren't the kind of series that can be read in such rapid succession. Louapre uses a lot of similar rhetorical devices in his prose that I could imagine might start to sound repetitive without the ostensible monthly publishing schedule. I'll have to keep this in mind, and perhaps spread the beauty out over the course of a few months, rather than weeks. Anyway, a detour into 1980s science fiction comics tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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