February 8, 2007

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The Grave Robber’s Daughter by Richard Sala (Fantagraphics Books, 2007, 80 pages)
By Eric W. Saeger news@hippopress.com

Graphic novel marking the first appearance of Sala’s f-bombing blonde Judy Drood, Girl Detective since 2005’s Mad Night. Sala’s black-and-white art is a rote splatter-punk stab at Zippy the Pinhead’s aura, an amateurish but tight style that could get away with x’s for dead people’s eyes without anyone complaining too much. The book itself is a short-attention-span bauble one could polish off while killing time in a Provincetown tourist trap whilst the missus tries on no more than a dozen crazily overpriced sun dresses.

Much is made by underground critics of Sala’s “whimsical” approach, presumably meaning that there’s some measure of adorableness to be found among the pen-and-inked heads getting bashed in and the medical aftermaths of same, but the motivation behind this tude-drooling detritus is probably less rooted in getting perfunctory yuks from purple-haired fashion victims than in Sala’s nerdy fetish for drawing miniskirted cartoon babes and flinging himself at bush-league gross-outs. Such as they are, the features of the book’s skeleton are misshapen, rushed half-thoughts about a murderous army of clowns stolen from Stephen King’s It, summoned from beyond to be the heavies in a Tales from the Crypt sendup.

What’s submitted as Shyamalanan denouement is decorated in one final f-bomb fired from an unlikely mouth, the moral of this entire little exercise apparently being “Everyone’s a jerk,” as if that were news to anti-everything types. C-