“glamourpuss” is quite possibly the most unique comic coming out currently, but it’s also one of the most vexing as Dave Sim tries to blend two interests/purposes with very mixed results. The only constant is his photorealistic art, which he copies from two sources: the art of Alex Raymond and women’s fashion magazines. It’s still hard to believe that those are the two things that make up “glamourpuss” every two months.
The fashion magazine parody pieces vary in quality. This issue being the “swimsuit issue,” Sim depicts page after page of women in swimsuits with descriptions of what they’re wearing like a magazine would (and no doubt did). However, he also adds glamourpuss’s “RGA” (really good advice) bits to each piece. These RGAs are meant to mimic pieces of advice one would find in a woman’s fashion magazine and could very well have been taken from some. They are meant to point out the ludicrous nature of the advice and mock those that would give it, but the focus isn’t clear enough and only some do that.
As well, at some points, Sim mocks comic readers for, no doubt, gawking at the drawings of these swimsuit-clad women, but how is that different from Sim producing twelve pieces of art this issue depicting said women? Is Sim also mocking himself? Really, the question ultimately becomes, “What’s the point?”
Mixed in with the swimsuit pieces, Sim continues his meditation on Alex Raymond’s photorealistic style, reproducing panels of Raymond’s work in an effort to learn just how Raymond produced his art. This is, by far, the most interesting part of the issue and, really, the reason why “glamourpuss” is worth reading. In this issue, Sim focuses on what he calls Raymond’s “Nightingale Style,” where Raymond used a brush to ink his work, but also produced incredibly thin lines.
Sim takes us through the evolution of the style as Raymond seemed to battle with the engravers who would thicken the lines, so they would show up easily in the newspapers where Raymond’s “Rip Kirby” strip was printed. Sim often compares his reproductions of Raymond’s art with reproductions from a Spanish edition that feature thicker lines and the difference is remarkable; the nuance and detail lost is shocking. As a result, Raymond altered his technique in an effort to seemingly force the engraver to capture the thin lines more faithfully, which is a very interesting way in which an artist’s style was altered. It’s practical reason that modern artists don’t have to contend with, but also resulted in some wonderful art that Sim reproduces here. Sim also provides a fantastic little anecdote on how Bernie Wrightson went about getting thin lines by using a brush instead of a pen.
Not a perfect comic by any means, “glamourpuss” #4 does continue the tradition of being very unique and interesting as a process comic, exploring Dave Sim’s current obsessions. The big weakness is still the fashion magazine parody elements, but even those have their worthwhile moments.