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Don’t you know I could never leave your side, girl?: Graeme takes on a touchy (for him) subject.

Graeme McMillan

I should probably start by telling you how much of a relief it is to be able to say that the new Boom! Studios book COVER GIRL #1 is Okay. It’s co-written by Kevin Church (alongside Andrew Cosby, who does Eureka for the Sci-Fi Channel), you see, better known to the internetosphere as Beaucoup Kevin and a man I’ve received more than the occasional email from in the past, and that kind of thing just adds a whole new layer of discomfort to reviewing something. I was pretty much prepared, if I hadn’t liked the book, to just pretend that it didn’t exist or something as an avoidance tactic. You know the kind of thing – Kevin would email and ask if I’d enjoyed Cover Girl, and I’d respond and ask him if he was talking about America’s Next Top Model or something, hoping to throw him off the scent (And talking of America’s Next Top Model – It’s going to be Renee at this point, right? Everytime they get to the judging and Nigel Barker says “Yes, she’s beautiful, but not young enough,” I feel as if it’s really ridiculous faux-foreshadowing – fauxshadowing? – designed to try and trick people into thinking that she’s about to be thrown off the show). Luckily, anyway, I don’t have to.

And, sure, there’s still some awkwardness that I can’t be more enthusiastic about the book. In part, it’s because I really wanted to like the book before I read it, because it’s Kevin and I know how excited he is about it (A feeling – the wanting to like it, I mean – that I think has been shared across a lot of the comic blog world; I can’t help but wonder if Boom! missed an opportunity by not doing more of an outreach thing to bloggers and playing up Kevin’s involvement more), and that kind of goodwill really shapes how you read something in the first place. But, alas and alack, there’re problems with the execution that stop me from wholehearted embracing the thing, mostly with the pacing – or, perhaps, the expectations given to the reader by the cover, and how that affects the way the pacing seems.

See, the book’s called Cover Girl. And on the cover, there’s a “girl” taking up half the page, with a gun and looking all sassy and big-chinned. So, it’s not unreasonable to find yourself reading the book in expectation for her arrival, as you’ve kind of been given enough information to assume that the book’s really about her. The problem with that is, she doesn’t appear until the last page, and – unlike, say, Martin Sheen in the first episode of The West Wing – her presence isn’t felt prior to that point, either. So you find yourself – or maybe it was just me – reading the issue somewhat frustratedly, waiting for her to appear or at least be mentioned, and treating everything else as filler or a slow, slow build. That’s probably unfair; I think that the series is really supposed to be about Alex, the actor who is on almost every single page of the first issue, but because of the cover and the title, that’s not what I thought I was reading when I started it, if that makes sense.

But to judge the book on what it is, rather than what it isn’t: It’s fun. Kevin’s dialogue owes a lot to J.M. DeMatteis’s Justice League stuff, I feel – There’s a similar beat and surface comedy to it – and it’s going for an “insider Hollywood” feel, which is always the source of some obvious humor. The art is a weird mix of really nice faces and awkward staging (If you could imagine Ariel Olivetti and Scott Kolins having an art baby, it’d probably be this artist) despite some muddy coloring, and there’re enough unanswered questions to make me want to pick up the second issue to see what happens next. So, yeah; it’s Okay, and worth checking out even if you don’t know the co-writer.

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