Review by: GaviinNansoong

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Avg Rating: 3.1
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By Dave Sim

Size: 0 pages
Price: 3.00

Glamourpuss certainly is a unique endeavour and when reading Akamuu’s review this morning I couldn’t help but sympathise with many of his arguments. I did however feel the need to accept his invitation to respond with my own take on the series to do date as I felt I almost certainly fitted into the category of reader he was looking for a response from.

Dave Sim is clearly an individual who divides opinion and I do not consider myself to be enough of an expert in the well documented issues surrounding his past work to comment on them specifically. I have yet to complete the entire Cerebus saga (I have only read the first two phonebooks so far) so I only have second-hand understanding with the chapters that seem to have defined Sim’s career through the numerous articles written on the subject. This may or may not have had an effect on my own take on Glamourpuss itself but is certainly worth establishing before presenting my take on the project.

When I first saw the series solicited I really had no idea what to expect but felt like taking a gamble without really knowing what the series is about. I’m pretty sure even if you had tied me to a chair and attached a car battery to my testicles I would not have been able to predict this books direction(s).

The first few issues certainly presented a challenge as a reader, without having done any background reading on the titles modus operandi I often felt like I had been cast adrift at sea. If my recall is correct the two separate aspects of the book were initial presented in a much more integrated way and switched between the fashion media parodies and the comic art commentary in a much more fluid and disorientating fashion than they do now. This was obviously jarring initially but is now an aspect of the title I miss now the two subjects tend to be presented separately. I am always drawn to work in any medium that present challenges to it’s audience and Glamourpuss certainly does that, sometimes the challenge alone is enough to keep me interested. This title is a good example of a series that pushed those buttons; whilst not always a success as ‘entertainment’ it has certainly done enough in other areas to keep me wanting to return for the next instalment.

Overall presentation is bordering on immaculate. The biggest draw for me throughout this series has been Sim’s line-work and is always heavily influenced by the artists covered in the books ongoing documentary about photo-realistic illustration methods. This is obvious in both of the books “identities” regardless of whether the pages are dedicated to deconstructing those works by way of vignettes of the artists work and discussing their soap opera relationships or alternatively in Sim’s fashion magazine layouts that he has chosen to reproduce in his best photo-realistic manner and present with his own commentary. These two subjects could almost certainly have been produced as two independent books but this decision to galvanise these under one banner presents to opportunity to create a unique ‘call and response’ between an artists own influences and creative urges.

“When people ask me if I have anything planned after Cerebus this is about all that comes to mind: cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson style”

From memory Sim initially uses Williamson for these parts and delves somewhat into the techniques used by the artists taking a scholarly approach to examples of the work and showing where details had been lost due to the crude reproduction techniques of the day. Before long though Sim moves on to stories covering Stan Drake and Alex Raymond which have become the books saving grace, delving into the history of some of the art forms most talented individuals who perhaps in Sim’s mind are sorely lacking the mainstream credit they deserve in the modern era. If that was his intention it certainly has been successful in my case, my knowledge of these two was non-existent before this series and now I feel I not only know a lot more about their work but also one persons take on their personalities. How accurate Sim’s take on these personalities is I don’t know and I have often wondered whist reading this series just how much of the scenes presented are based on actual documented events or Sim’s own dot-joining. They have however formed the main basis for my understanding of these individuals lives and personalities regardless of accuracy.

The Fashion magazine parodies offer a very different kind of challenge to its audience and based on the views in his own review this is an aspect that has left a bad taste in Akamuu’s mouth. My first reaction to these parts was one of pleasant surprise, mostly because I thought it to be a good choice by the artist to make his protagonist an all-seeing female commentator who was able to serve as a response to the criticism to his previous work. The title character is portrayed as strong, single minded, self-sufficient and opinionated. Her frequent references to the books “Mr. Slim” certainly give the character a clearly defined independence from her creator even if that is only a deliberate illusion. These sections are presented as a series fashion shoot reproductions which serve as backdrop for whatever issue seems to be pre-occupying the writer at the time. The illustrations are some of the books strongest points and are packed with detail and craft, the lack of direction with the narrative is easily the weakest part of the project; especially when Sim is channelling a different narrator than that of the main Glamourpuss voice. Most recently this has been Zootanapuss, a parody of Zatanna. Sim has a long track record for utilising these off-kilter parody characters for his own means or impulses, even if that intention is not to directly comment on the character he is using as seems to be the case here.

Dave Sim’s name is an individual that seems will permanently be associated with his apparently misogynistic views, again I must stress that my understanding of the history behind these events is limited to the articles I have read on the subject rather than the work itself. Perhaps in the future someone will present their own take on this creators work and background much like Sim has chosen to do in the other half of this book.

It does seem to me that part of the intention behind this project is to respond to the points made against him and his previous work. Not to ‘clear his name’ or anything as pedestrian as that but to show that individuals views are rarely as black and white as this kind of commentary may seem to require. Whilst it is true that some of the characters apart from Glamourpuss herself are less than favourable portrayals of characters (who probably quite deliberately happen to be female) this does seem to be utilised to stick two fingers up at the commonly accepted view of the creator. It is true that a typical issue is unlikely to pass the Bechdel Test however by using the format of the fashion magazine Sim is able to cast a wide net and when the book is successful it is trying to make a point about use (and abuse) of female archetypes in media to promote and sell products as well as ideas.

Keeping in mind this is a reflection of the series to date rather than this actual issue (which I wont pick up until the weekend)

Story – 3
Art – 5

Story: 3 - Good
Art: 5 - Excellent


  1. Thanks for this well-thought out explanation. Having not read all of the previous twenty-three issues, I was going purely on issue #24 and one of the early issues (I have no idea which one it was, other than somewhere between two and five).

    The crux of this discussion: “a typical issue is unlikely to pass the Bechdel Test however by using the format of the fashion magazine Sim is able to cast a wide net and when the book is successful it is trying to make a point about use (and abuse) of female archetypes in media to promote and sell products as well as ideas.” leaves me with this feeling: At no point in this issue did Sim seem to be giving the impression that he is attacking the media’s abuse of female archetypes. It really comes across as him abusing the women himself.

    I don’t say that as an argument to your review or point of view. Just to say that, if it was his intention to be skewering the media and not the women, he misses the mark by a wide margin.

    I also have not read all of Cerberus, and am not familiar with the exact details of the events that led his detractors to label him a misogynist. I base my opinions solely on the two issues of Glamourpuss that I’ve read. I think they say enough on their own.

    • For me I think at this point its very hard to decipher how much of Sim’s work is genuinely his own voice and how much is layered by the “character” of the writer Dave “The Misogynist” Sim, Is he pushing the buttons you describe purely because it is what he believes or to further perpetuate his own myth?
      If all is hype is his gospel truth then it comes down to good old fashioned “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” as far as I’m concerned (until they start digging up bodies and suchlike anyway).
      If it is all another layer to the work then it certainly adds to the project.

      In the end on Sim will know the truth.

      Thanks also for your input, as I said I totally see where you are coming from.

      Great to discuss these things on this site.

  2. One of the may reasons I love this site is that there appear to be a higher percentage of people actually interested in talking about comics than people who either like to troll, or who can only describe their point of view by saying “This sucks” or “This is awesome.” Whenever I see a review here, or a comment that just says “I don’t like this, it’s awful. One star!” I’m tempted to ask for an explanation because so many people on this site would have a reasonable one, then I remember the times I’ve spent on sites like Bleeding Cool reading comments (and this is no fault of the website, it’s just the way the internet is) and having to focus all my energy on keeping my rage filled brain inside my skull.

    Next up we can discuss how tired I am of Grant Morrison’s complex relationship with time, or why Jeff Loeb can’t write anymore. (These are not actual things I want to talk about, just two things that spring to mind whenever I think of hot button iFanboy topics.)

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