After last issue concluded Dave Sim’s in-depth examination of Alex Raymond’s photorealistic style and its evolution, he begins a new focus in this issue with Stan Drake, an artist that picked up right where Raymond left off. Despite this shift in focus, Sim only spends a few pages on Drake specifically before delving into the context surrounding Drake’s initial work, which is comic strip drawing for advertisements.
While some may find Sim’s writing on the advertisement business for artists in the mid-20th century a little boring or dry, favoring his discussion about specific art techniques, the topic is actually very interesting. The manner in which artists like Hal Foster apparently viewed advertising and comic strip work at different levels of respectability is fascinating and something not often discussed.
This issue is more meandering than previous issues, but works well as a break after five issues of very focused discussion, both for the reader and Sim. There’s a sense that Sim needs the break just as much as readers might, that just having a leisurely chat about artists working in advertising in the 1940s and '50s is required. There’s plenty of interesting facts here that shed a lot of light on a part of comics history often ignored.
That said, Sim moves through a lot of information here at a very quick pace, moving from topic to topic as each new one comes up. It’s a little frantic, as if there’s so much he wants to share, but isn’t quite sure how to get it across best.
The fashion magazine parody elements in this issue work better than any in the past since Sim doesn’t have a target and just tries to be funny. The running theme in this issue is the “10 Blonde Mensa Supermodels” and the descriptions for some of them are hilarious. For example, number eight on the list, Caetlynne Lodge-Ginsberg’s “Master’s Thesis at Princeton University so refined our understanding of Hegel’s philosophy of ultimate reality inherently existing in ideas rather than things that the first twenty pages applied for and were granted tenure by the Philosophy Department.” Much like the advertising elements, Sim appears to be simply having fun, unencumbered by the need to satirize or mock a specific target. He, instead, just goes for absurd jokes and succeeds most of the time.
As always, Sim’s art is beautiful and expertly rendered. What I noticed most in this issue was his use of space as he fills some pages with words and text so completely, overloading the senses and, then, leaves a lot of negative space to emphasize specific drawings. This issue has Sim shift between several styles since he gives a broad overview of numerous artists and their work, and the juxtapositions of all of these styles is wonderful to behold.
“glamourpuss” #6 is a necessary breather issue as Sim steps back a little to examine advertising comics as a context for his upcoming discussion of Stan Drake, and it sheds some light on part of comics’ past that I wasn’t aware of. “glamourpuss” continues as a unique read, quite unlike anything else on the shelves and a must for anyone with any interest in art and comics history.