FIRST ISSUE: GRRL SCOUTS
An admirable first issue must, above all else, contain such matter as will compel a reader to buy the second issue. At the same time, while provoking curiosity through mysteriousness, a good first issue must avoid being so mysterious as to be cryptic or incomprehensible. And, thirdly, it should introduce the title’s principals, preferably in a way that makes us care about them. Fourth, a first issue should include a complete “episode”—that is, something should happen, a crisis of some kind, which is resolved by the end of the issue, without, at the same time, detracting from the cliffhanger aspect of the effort that will compel us to buy the next issue. A completed episode displays decisive action or attitude, telling us that the book’s creators can manage their medium.
Jim Mahfood is back, writing and drawing Grrl Scouts No.1, “Magic Socks,” in which he competes with Kaare Kyle Andrews (Renato Jones: Freelancer) for visual daring and panache with the kinky-est cartoony graphic styling in comics. His lines are brittle, his forms angular, and page layout squirms uncomfortably throughout.
In the opening sequence, Jose is discharged from psychiatric ward into the hands of her mother but they encounter “delinquents” hovering by their car. They’re Jose’s friends, and at her bidding, they kill the mother, and they all go off in the car, hunting her cousin Daphne Sanchez, one of the trio of Grrl Scouts. Daphne and her pals Gwen and Rita, the Grrl Scouts, are “bad-ass bitches who live in Freak City and who deal weed disguised in cookie boxes” (hence, we assume, their guise as Grrl Scouts).
While Jose goes hunting, her prey, Daphne, is working in the Weird Hog nightclub, where she apparently dances and, undiscovered until just now, deals weed to the customers.
Just as management attempts to discipline her, Gwen arrives, and the two knock the thugs around a bit. A fight ensues for 5 pages of topsy-turvey panels and border-leaping pictorials, laced with colorful sound effects, ending the completed episode in the book—showing both the fistic and footstic dexterity of Daphne and Gwen as well as Mahfood’s eccentric treatment of anatomy and the medium in which he is working.
Just as Daphne and Gwen exit the premises, Jose and her thugs show up, asking after Daphne, and exterminating the club’s guards and owner. Meanwhie, Daphne and Gwen arrive at Rita’s place, and the three discuss the impending doom that Josie and her millions of Twitter followers threaten.
Daphne wants to know why Gwen came to the Weird Hog, looking for her, and Gwen explains that it’s about the magic socks Gwen’s wearing. End of issue.
What’s magic about the socks? And so what? Cliffhanger enough for the nonce.
By the time you read this, the series has ended with No.6. But you can find back issues at your local comic book shop.
The pleasure in reading — experiencing — this title is in Mahfood’s wild and distinctive style, both in rending his subject and in manipulating the comics form to his purposes, which are not, it seems, entirely narrative. The pictures — just to characterize them not to decipher them — may have been committed while on a high derived from something other than pen and ink. It’s a cartoony pictorial circus, a visual delight, just barely held together by the spastic forward movement of the narrative. You’ll come back until you’ve consumed all six issues.