Apr 29, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project: Day 64 - The Score #1, 1989

Moving on back to my recent predilection for Piranha Press productions for a bit. I've had this series kicking about in the collection for a while now, but just never got around to reading it. There's this subtle difference between reading a regular, 22-page comics story and reading a prestige-format publication (this particular one being 48 pages long). I think that perhaps it's a psychological thing. The prestige format was always intended to house a "special" story, one that, both size-wise and thematically, broke from the boundaries of the regular monthly comic. When I pick on up, it feels like I'm making a different kind of reading commitment. The first prestige album I ever read was the first issue of The Dark Knight Returns, which is 100% outside the bounds of regular comics, and really does take a different kind of reading commitment. So perhaps that's coloured my experience of them.

Anyway, The Score is set near-future (though, considering it was written in the late 80s, it's probably set some time in our past), in Hollywood, and follows an amnesic man staggering through the segregated and crime-riddled streets of Lower Hollywood. Inevitably he falls in with the stereotypical "crooks with a heart of gold" (or so we're led to believe), and becomes involved in a plot to bring down an even worse criminal. Oh, and part way through we find out that the man with amnesia used to be a rich rock star. So, really, it's not the most original story. We can all assume that this man, Philip, will learn some great moral lesson about the division of class, he'll fall for the kind-hearted hooker who rescues him early in the story. The Score is a tried and tested narrative in the annals of American literature (though the only one that's coming to mind right now is the Goldie Hawn movie Overboard). The important thing to note, though, is that this is not necessarily a mark in the negative column. There are certain stories that we tell and retell because the messages that they carry continue to be important ones. Further, when we can see that these stories, or versions of them, stretch back into our literature, it becomes apparent that the stories are dealing with concerns that, culturally, we might always have had, and that we are still struggling to address through the vehicle of our fiction. It's one of the reasons I've dedicated my life to its study.

Narrative aside, Mark Badger's artwork is pretty badass. He claims Kirby as an influence, and there's a few shots that just scream the King's name, but the stylized paintings push Badger into a realm of his own. There's a gorgeous small panel of a woman giving a man a blowjob (which I'll not repost here...you never know who's reading), and it's really quite beautiful. So again, the story's an old one, but in Badger's visual conception of it, we have a new take on an old tale. The neo-twenties future style of New Hollywood contrasted with the contemporary ghetto look of Lower Hollywood, the lush, painted colours as our focal character moves through what basically amounts to a child porn factory, all are given a disconcertingly soft and warm character by Badger's art. It's almost as if we're looking at a world through the lens of a man with amnesia....

The Score is a four-part series, all of which I own, so I'll be doing this series for the next few days. I think four issues is short enough that I won't run out of things to say about it, or feel locked into it. I really am going to have to figure out what to do about longer series. See you tomorrow.

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