Review: Dave Sims’ Glamourpuss

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Okay, true confession time:  I’ve never read Cerebus.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been a mainstream comic guy.  Still am.  Now, though, I’m more open to independent projects.

Still, though, Cerebus is something that I’d like to get around to reading at some point.

My friend OG mentioned that he also missed out on Cerebus, but that he was jumping on board with the new Dave Sim project, Glamourpuss.
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I have another confession to make:  The more I heard about Glamourpuss, the less I wanted to pick it up.

The bits and pieces I heard about it were not exciting me.  The idea of a satirical book made up of drawings based on the models of women’s fashion magazines?  Wow.  So not my cup of tea.

Honestly, it felt more and more as if this was turning into some sort of self-indulgent vanity project, that Sim was taking advantage of his Cerebus fans to purposefully put out a book, completely without a market, just because he could.

Yet, my curiousity about the project could not be denied.  If there was to be a disaster, I intended to be there to gawk at it.

This past week, I recieved my comics in the mail (thank you discount online ordering services!!!), and among the stack of spandex covered superheroes was Glamourpuss.
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In a time when my curiosity often makes me regret plopping down my hard-earned cash on new comic projects, Glamourpuss turned out to be a real surprise.

It was good.

It was more than good.  It was fantastic.

What I had feared would be a mediocre satire turned out to be more of a personal examination of the photo-realistic line art of such artists as Al Williamson, Stan Drake, Neal Adams, and Alex Raymond.

And, yet, it wasn’t merely a clinical and dry examination of the art styles or the men.  It felt very much like having a conversation with a knowledgeable fan, who as he talked, took out a piece of paper to demonstrate what he was talking about.

Throughout the book, Sims demonstrates the styles used, not by merely photocopying the images and pasting them in (because the copies have been reproduced so many times that the details are all but lost), but by actually tracing and redrawing them, diversifying the line weight in his best guess of what the original was.

And, as he does so, the project takes on a very personal feel of an artist trying to grasp the techniques of a style that is all too seldom seen.  Glamourpuss is a journal recounting this voyage.
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Oh, there are aspects of the satire within the book.  And, while it is competent enough, it is more of a window dressing to the book.

Here I am, I’ve come this far, and I haven’t really talked about the art itself!  If you are only concerned about the art in your comics, don’t worry.  You will not be disappointed in this book.  It is really, truly beautiful stuff.  By examining the art under the guiding explanations of Sims, you will take even more from it.

Is this a self-indulgent vanity project?  Yeah, it really is.  It certainly isn’t a “traditional” type of comic book.  And, if Dave Sims was not Dave Sims, there is little chance anyone would have ever heard of this book.  That said, even though it is a self-indulgent vanity project, it is a really, really good self-indulgent vanity project.

If you haven’t checked it out, you should.

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2 Responses to “Review: Dave Sims’ Glamourpuss”

  1. Bill Shatner Says:

    As you stated, Sim is tracing drawings to make his comic book; but you give him far too much credit on his “interpretation” of the original. Check out the UTube video where he demonstrates his
    technique” . It is pure tracing over a photocopy. Sure it would take time and is compulsive, but this is not skill. In fact, I’m not sure why he hasn’t been sued yet for copyright infringement, as it seems like a pretty straightforward case of theft (or is he giving attribution to each photo/photographer?).

    Plus, you didn’t touch on the gratuitous hateful comment about women. maybe they weren’t in issue 5 , but i stopped reading for this reason after issue 3.

    My opinion is that if Sim didn’t know how to draw he’d be smacking around women. Luckily he can draw…er ah trace….to get out his apparent anger issues.

  2. earthgbilly Says:

    I’m afraid I have to disagree about whether what Sims does is a skill or not. It is something that, given the same materials, most people would not be able to do until they practiced quite a bit (ie, devoloping their skill).

    There are many artists that I could name that basically trace images, and while I may question calling them a “great” artist, I will never deny that what they do takes a level of skill.

    This review is about the first issue of the series, not issue #5. As for “gratuitous hateful comment about women,” this work, as read, is a satirical social commentary about fashion magazines with an artist’s journey thrown in. I reviewed this work, and only this work. I decided before ever writing a word that I was not going to write a judgment on the creator. Based on the work alone, I found nothing “hateful” about it.

    Your opinion that if Sims didn’t know how to draw he’d be smacking around women is maybe the most ignorant thing I’ve read this month. It is either just offensive or an imbecilic simplification of the issue of violence against women. Either way, bad form.

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