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Model Operandi Vol. 1: Affair of the Heart
Review by David E. Miller

Model Operandi Review Cover Image
Model Operandi Vol. 1: Affair of the Heart

Dennis Budd and
Joe Caramagna
Dennis Budd
Joe Caramagna
Dennis Budd
Joe Caramagna

Square Head Entertainment
Softcover Collection
Publish Date
March 2005
Cover Price

I had high hopes for Joe Caramagna's and Dennis Budd’s Model Operandi because the premise seemed really interesting. From the title and the cover, I assumed this was a story about fabulous supermodels who were covert special agents that would get entangled in tales of espionage and intrigue.

Model Operandi smokeAs I started reading, I got excited: the art was fantastic and the dialogue read promisingly. As a huge fan on innuendo and alliteration, I was extremely optimistic when I read Ann Lezbee’s (as in Lesbian, not lezbee friends) account of her childhood exploits playing hide and go seek with her female friend, Laralei. “When I would find Laralei in my bush, it was damn near anti-climactic – it wasn’t the find that gave me a crack…it was the hunt that really makes my heart – EXPLODE!”

At this point it seemed appropriate to remove all expectations of reading a serious story, and I thought that I would just let go and enjoy the ride. For some reason though, the story did not continue with this kind of creative ingenuity. I thought this story would emerge into a social commentary or perhaps a reflection on the double standard that women are oppressed by in society. Since the writing initially seemed so tongue-in-cheek, I thought there would be an underlying current of the book just being fun and not taking itself seriously.

Instead, this story just falls into the typical stereotypes and does not challenge any of the accepted notions about women in society. It's really just a serious story about beautiful women who fight crime. But while most stories in this genre demand respect for their strong female characters, this story degrades the women while trying to uplift them. The only characteristics ever really reinforced about these women are centered around their beauty and chest size. The reader is never given a greater reason to like these characters beyond the fact that they are rich, beautiful, and can kick some butt.

Model Operandi gunsThe story centers around a heist. Ann Lezbee, the Special Ops Presidential Intern, while in Paris, is partnered with Paris police to capture a jewel thief. I’m not quite sure how Lezbee can be Special Ops though, because she’s carrying a pair of cantaloupes the size of watermelons, which would make maneuvering any space quite difficult. I liked the ingenuity in also making her a Presidential Intern, but missed any more of this creativity as the story developed.

The thief gets away despite a hot pursuit, but not without sucking in the rest of the characters. It turns out that this is no ordinary jewel, but rather the ‘Heart of Josephine’ a long treasured historical Parisian artifact. Along the way we meet, among others, Legsy Diamond, the world’s top supermodel, and garner a glimpse into the writer’s stereotyped ideas of the cut-throat world of high fashion. Then, for whatever reason, this book that started out so funny, devolves into a convoluted family drama juxtaposed with a pseudo love story.

Here’s the thing: the art, the composition, and the coloring are all phenomenal. Dennis Budd appears to be a tremendous artist whose work I will look forward to in the future. Upon opening the book, the reader should recognize how beautiful the book looks. Budd’s pencils are well developed and the story flows visually. I loved how Budd’s coloring accentuated his pencils and Caramagna’s inking to give the feel of reading an animated cartoon. The city these characters inhabit is rich in architecture and looks like the kind of place that these characters would live. However, unlike Lezbee’s chest, the actual script leaves a lot to be desired.
Bonus Features
There are three issues that encompass this graphic novel which are only available online. The first few pages of the first issue are available for preview, but the rest can only be read through purchasing a membership. The graphic novel offers an inexpensive way to read all three online issues as well as the opportunity to enjoy a few added pin-ups of the women.
Final Words

I don’t think that this book is ripe for a mainstream publisher, but there is definitely a publishing house for these creators. This team is publishing their work independently and on their own through publishing service They also have an extensive website with previews and merchandise. I applaud them for all of their drive and initiative. However, the story suffered from a severe identity crisis. If it is supposed to be humorous, then the jokes initially made should be continued throughout the series. I just think that it is very difficult to call your two female leads Ann Lezbee (who is continually insulted throughout the series for her sexual orientation) and Legsy Diamond (who is basically a sexual object who is helping to find…of all things...a diamond?!) and then expect the reader to take them seriously as strong female leads. After reading through the entire series, I couldn’t help but think that, in the end, this was just a wonderful package for this pair to get their foot in the door somewhere else to do another project. I am still befuddled as to why the script was initially so intriguing and then lost all of it’s steam. I would recommend this to smaller publishing houses looking to sign emerging talent, but I would not recommend this to the buying public.

Skip It (but check out the art online)

David E. Miller (email) has been involved in the comic book industry for almost 20 years. He started out attending Serendipity Comic Book Conventions in Suburban Philly and befriending top independent creators like Reggie Byers(Shuriken for Comico). He parlayed his industry expertise into recruiting the Honorary Board for the New York City Comic Book Museum. His highest related achievement was sitting down with Stan Lee in his studio office for an hour talking history. His lowest was selling off most of his collection in High School.
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