by Paul Pope
I have not read anywhere near enough of Paul Pope's body of work. Sure, I've read his Batman and his Vertigo books, but I've only scratched the surface of his THB stuff, and a smattering of items that have turned up elsewhere over the years. I even managed to miss his One Trick Rip-Off, and so I am grateful that Image has republished it, alongside a number of shorter works, collectively called Deep Cuts, from the 90s.
The One Trick Rip-Off is an excellent little gangster story. The One Tricks are called that because they have some limited ability to mentally influence people around them. Tubby, a lieutenant in the gang, has decided to rip them off of a safe full of traveler's cheques, and head for quieter ground with his girlfriend Vim. They have a plot, involving the delivery of Indian food, but are soon derailed by the ambition of another One Trick.
This story works very well - we get to like the characters, and Pope gives the story a pretty frenetic pace.
The other stories in this book are varied in terms of their quality. Many are fantastic, although a few are better included as historical documents than as stand-alone stories. These are mostly urban little tales, some quite dark, others humorous. I especially enjoyed the second to last one, 'The Scarf', which is a romance tale set on different subway trains in New York.
For much of the 90s, Pope was involved in some work with a manga company, and that influence shows in stories like 'Super Trouble' and 'Night Job'. I think I prefer the more impressionistic stories that came before, from his 'Columbus' phase.
Anyway, this is a very impressive, very dense book, just filled with good comics. I'm sure this is going to be on many a 'best of' list at the end of the year.