Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Complete Lowlife

by Ed Brubaker

Quick quiz:  What's the first thing you think of when you hear Ed Brubaker's name?  I automatically associate him with crime comics, such as Criminal, or his other genre explorations like Incognito and the currently-running Fatale.  I imagine a number of people would think of Captain America first, as he's been writing that character for a number of years, and is responsible for some of the best Cap stories of the last twenty years.  I doubt very many people would associate Brubaker with semi-autobiographical cartooning along the lines of a Chester Brown or Joe Matt, but that's what A Complete Lowlife is.

Brubaker wrote and drew the comics collected here in the early 90s, before he broke into mainstream comics.  His stories feature Tommy, a guy in his early twenties who lacks ambition, preferring to work in dead-end service industry jobs, drink, and generally waste time.  He has problems with women, and thinks nothing of stealing from his employers.

I'm not sure if Tommy is a complete lowlife, as the title suggests, but he's not all that nice a person.  Brubaker pieces together a not uncommon figure - an American male trapped in a cycle of adolescence that is extending way too long into adulthood.  Still, those figures are kind of funny at times, and Brubaker has always known how to tell a good story.  His art is a little stiff, but more than serviceable.  This is an interesting window into the mind of one of the most influential writers working in comics today.

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