Friday, September 30, 2011

Pope Hats #2

by Ethan Rilly

It's been more than two years since I bought the first issue of Pope Hats at TCAF, and in the intervening time, creator Ethan Rilly has secured a publisher (the bastion of quality, Adhouse), and has vastly refined the aim and scope of the comic.  This new issue does not require that the first has been read - it's pretty easy to pick up the characters from the previous issue.

The main story focuses on Francis, who works as a law clerk at a high-powered Bay Street firm in Toronto.  She receives a pseudo-promotion, as she is moved under the purview of Marcel Castonguay, a major player in the firm, who is also a workaholic, and pretty eccentric.  Frances is not too happy about the promotion - she isn't all that ambitious, and is prone to anxiety, which is keeping her up at night.

Her roommate, Vickie, is as always unconcerned about this, or just about anything else.  Rilly keeps the story tightly focused on Frances, and it works as a very strong character study.  Gone are the more supernatural aspects of the comic (previously, Frances was visited by a ghost), and the humour is ironic.

There is a second story in the book - Gould Speaks, wherein a man taking a bus from Toronto to Montreal (a good eight hour journey) muses on a variety of things, including hair smudged windows, apparently out loud.  The book ends with a pair of one-page strips, for a total of forty pages of comics.

Rilly reminds me of Adrian Tomine here more than any other cartoonist, although with the focus being on employment and other external constraints on the spirit, instead of relationships.  There are some great insights in this comic, and reading it made me feel very happy that I decided on a career path that never led me towards working in an office environment.  These people are nuts, and lacking balance.

Pope Hats is a great comic, proving once again that I live in one of the premier cities for indie comics.  Toronto is less prevalent in this issue than the first, but it's still a thrill recognizing the landscape in a comic.  I can't recommend this book enough.

No comments: