Indie Comic Review: Bucko

Bucko by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen – Dark Horse Comics – $19.99

There are some people who claim that Portlandia is a comedy.  Then, there are people like me who claim that it is more like a documentary of my neighborhood.  Apparently, writer Jeff Parker and artist Erika Moen live in a similar neighborhood because Bucko is a pretty accurate representation of what life can be like in the fair land of Stumptown.

After discovering a dead body in an office bathroom, hungover job interviewee Rich “Bucko” Richardson becomes suspected of the murder. What he thinks is a quest to find the real killer turns into a weeklong romp through the wilds of Portland, Oregon, complete with bike-mounted cover bands, steampunk Makers, Juggalos, SuicideGirls, meth heads, so much absinthe, and an entire city made of books. After taking the Internet by storm, Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s dirty, funny murder mystery is now the most hilarious book in comic shops!

Aside from the dead body part of the book, I can safely say that most everything that happens in Bucko either has happened in Portland, or easily could happen here.  The city is alive, vibrant, and just as much a character in the story as any of the walking, talking characters who populate the pages.   The world of Bucko is populated with gregarious extroverted characters who pay the bills through a variety of non-traditional vocations.

The characters are what make Bucko.  Without them, the story would not hold up.  In fact, the story is actually pretty flimsy.  It is more of a McGuffin that serves to introduce the readers to an expanding cast of colorful people.  But that doesn’t matter.  Each character is such a bundle of joy to read that the reader kind of loses track of what is actually happening in the story.

Erika Moen’s art is the star of the book.  Her cartoony styl gives each character a dose of personality which transcends the information given in the script.  From facial expressions to body language, each character oozes with personality.  Even the eponymous hero, the blandest of all the characters, has his own look and feel which is different from all the other characters.  His blandness is reflected in his clothes, his attitude, and his awkwardness in the face of all the other “cooler” characters.

If there is any shrotcoming to the book Bucko, it is that that script is wildly inconsistent.  Sometimes it borders on brilliant (such as in the post popping of the back-zit scene).  Sometimes it borders on infomercial/Department of Tourism commercial (such as in the scene where Bucko marvels over the deals to be found in the Chinook Book).  Since Jeff Parker is normally far more consistent a writer, I have to assume that the inconsistencies have to do with the way the story was constructed.

Parker and Moen experimented with the way the Bucko script was produced.  Parker would only deliver one page at a time to Moen.  In order to get the next page, Moen would have to complete the page she was given.  This meant that Moen would have to guess which new characters would be important and which were throwaways.

This system also allowed Parker freedom to ruminate on things for a few days as Moen worked on the art.  He would take inspiration from the surroundings or from the week’s events and include them in the script.  This is why, sometimes, the script takes some interesting or random tangents.  I can only assume that one of the interns at Periscope Studios was commenting on the amazing values found in the Chinook Book while Parker was walking through the room.

The collected edition of Bucko is full of all kinds of exciting extras not seen in the original webcomic including bonus scenes (including one that rhymes with “free play”), character designs, page layouts and reference photos, and creator commentary throughout.  That is a whole lot of added value and makes the collected edition well worth the price of admission.

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1595829733/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1595829733&linkCode=as2&tag=stumptowntradereview-20″>Bucko is available now</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=stumptowntradereview-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1595829733″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />and I recommend it!

Check out a 6 page preview here.

 

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