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SLOP: Analecta
Review by Sean Maher

SLOP: Analecta

Dave Crosland and Debbie
Dave Crosland and Debbie

Image Comics
Softcover Collection
Publish Date
August 31, 2005
Cover Price
There are several types of comics collected in SLOP, though the three that stand out most (and make up most of the book) are original short stories, comics adaptations of song lyrics and one-page humor strips. The three vary from each other wildly in content and quality, and I found myself wanting to skip over entire sections to get to the good stuff.

The short stories, by and large, are really fun and creative work. The opener, an eight page rhyming poem about a little girl whose closet monster escapes, is charming and funny, with a rhyme hook that makes the tale lyrical and memorable. The rhythm is off here and there, but it’s nothing drastic, and the personality is great.

SLOP: EmilyI also enjoyed a short story about a man who looks like a dog, running after a ball his “owner” (girlfriend?) pretended to throw but kept concealed in her hand. It’s a funny interior monologue that draws some clever parallels between the owner/pet and girlfriend/boyfriend relationships.

Then there are the songs-turned-comics, which are some of the more striking, thoughtful moments in the collection. I enjoyed their adaptations of “Sad, Sad Song” (originally by M. Ward.) and “Cold Blows The Wind” (originally by Ween). Both are melancholy and whistful, with vaguely uplifting endings and a lot of heartfelt emotion clear on the page.

Things, for me, went downhill quickly. Personally, I’ve gotten really tired of liberal humor. I went to school for a year and a half at Evergreen State College, which had to be the White People With Dreadlocks capital of the world, and I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life. So, while I’m pretty liberal in a lot of ways, I’m super-quick to eye-rolling boredom and embarrassment when people start in on Evil Corporations and The Horrible Mass Media and Bush’s foreign policy. It’s gotta really snap or I’m gonna come down on it hard.

There’s a lot of that kind of humor to be found here, and a lot of serious material that addresses similar issues. In almost every instance, I found the jokes to be limp and unimaginative and the more emotional, grounded elements cliché and transparent. I don’t think it’s racy or daring to draw Uncle Sam getting raped by a Russian guy, with other representatives of “America’s foreign policy victims” (so to speak) waiting their turn in line – it’s trying so hard to be offensive and funny, it fails twice, and only ends up being dull, which is the worst sin this kind of material can commit.

“Kung Fu Bus Boy” and the “Slop” one-page strips are where most of this material is contained, and it makes up a lot more of the book than its dearth of creativity deserves. Seeing “the boss” at the office with a 401-K plan shoved up his ass? If that’s the sort of thing you’d like to read, you can find it here, but I’d really rather just watch Office Space again.

SLOP: Penquin BeefThe art throughout the collection varies in style quite a bit, and it’s mostly lovely stuff. It doesn’t blaze much of a new trail – think Jim Mahfood with some influence from the more elegant manga styles – but it serves the material just fine.

Where it really stirs things up is in the song adaptations I mentioned above. These are pure visuals, really, and seem meant to provide a visual soundtrack of sorts to the songs themselves. Considering that they don’t contain any original “writing,” they’re still pretty creatively put together; they remind me of P.T. Anderson swearing that Magnolia was his attempt to make a movie of Aimee Mann’s lyrics. And they’ve got me interested in M. Ward, a musician I hadn’t heard of before, but whose material I look forward to investigating.

Again, though, things go wrong when they try to get provocative. One of the most empty, meaningless sections of the book is called “Penguin Beef”, and it’s basically a bunch of cute women lounging around with cigarettes and guns. The big twist? The personal punch the creators dropped on it? They’re all wearing nun’s habits.

That’s it.

These gentlemen clearly have some talent, but that’s one of the least interesting ideas I’ve come across in a while. The introduction says that one of them went to Catholic school for nine years, and the imagery may resonate more with folks who share that experience. But I can’t help but read it as a really clumsy, obvious in-joke with no power behind its punch line.

Bonus Features
The book itself is essentially all bonus features, but the sections break down like this: short stories, “Kung Fu Bus Boy” strips, “Slop” strips, an art book called “Acid Bomb”, a pin-ups section, and a cover gallery.
Final Words

I’d like to be able to recommend this, and if it was trimmed down to a $5 collection of the bits I really enjoyed, I could. But the axe these creators have to grind is an old one, and I felt like they got distracted from their more heartfelt, richer stories in an attempt to do stuff that was more consciously “important” to them. And the work just isn’t creative enough to stand up under the expectations that creates in my reading.

Skip it

Sean Maher (email) lives in San Francisco, balancing his love for comics with a full-time job and a full-time course load studying journalism at SFSU. He maintains Sean Maher's Quality Control, a daily blog designed to spread the word of greatness in comics.
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