Stumptown Vol.1 by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth

Stumptown Vol.1: The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo (But Left Her Mini)
by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth
Oni Press, 2011

Mickey Spillane and other hardboiled detective archetypes are given a gleeful kicking in this cheerful neo-noir comic, starring Dex Parios, a 32-year-old private investigator with a huge gambling debt and an affable younger brother with Down’s Syndrome. To pay off her debt, she’s forced to track down the missing granddaughter of the casino owner, while avoiding numerous sexist thugs who are considerably larger than her.

The atmospheric panels are drawn from photographic reference, but with a rough liveliness and subdued colour palette that complements the story well. The vivacious heroine Parios is put through the same set of indignities Mike Hammer usually faces, but without the payoff of nubile damsels, or in this case, handsome emergency room doctors. This willingness to give one’s protagonist a good scuffing is also apparent in the physical tribulations of Indiana Jones, Die Hard’s John McClane and even the Harry Potter kids, but the series of shootings and merciless beatings that Parios endures is quite hard to take – she spends most of the story with a huge black eye.

Her willing to take a licking and keep on ticking is even stressed in the promotional material at the end of the book, in a shirt design showing the battered heroine with a broken arm giving a thumbs up under the slogan ‘Taking a beating so you don’t have to”. This is not necessarily how you want your character to be remembered.

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