Published on September 28th, 2012 | by ALICE0
Comic Review: Pope Hats issue #3
Last week I went to the launch party for Ethan Rilly’s Pope Hats #3. I dig going to Beguiling Book launches because the author goes on stage and talks at length about his (or her) work & sometimes there is an interview (call me Beguiling, I’ll interview). In this case, Ethan Rilly was joined on stage by Michael DeForge, a fellow Canadian comic book author, and they interviewed each other which was very interesting and way entertaining. Anyway, after the fun of the launch I went home to re-read the previous issues and dive into #3. I gotta say I really dig it, the first issue is a little rough but 2&3 are spot on!
There is a way cartoonists tell a story that isn’t just one awesome thing, but a culmination of many skills that affect the overall experience of the comic and Ethan Rilly is very close to mastering it. The story centres on Frances, a girl in her mid twenties who is successful in her job as a law clerk, and her roommate Vickie, an aspiring actress and alcoholic. The issue follows the girls’ success, unhappiness and their drifting apart.
There are 40 pages in this issue but the vibe of the pacing makes it feel longer -in a good way. Everything in Pope Hats is there for a reason, each line of dialogue, every awkward glance, each scenic panel has a purpose even though some parts don’t seem that way until the issue is viewed as a whole. The flow of the issue is captivating and draws you into the characters’ struggle, as the issue emotes to the reader how the characters feel: ‘this is just the way it is’. The story really puts forth a feeling – the sense that success in the workplace may not be as fulfilling as one would hope & that one must find their own happiness…. then again that might just be my interpretation.
Frances is a rising star at the law firm, though she didn’t ask to be, she does her work, keeps to herself and leaves her opinions and feelings out of the workplace. All of which makes her a great listener for the rest of the disgruntled, and disillusioned employees around her whether they be superiors; “Frances you’re a blue chip performer. I’m interested in your future” or subordinates; “You’re being groomed … You should be proud”. While the only thing on Frances’s mind is her pressing insomnia and how she should feel based on other people’s opinions.
One of the really neat aspects of the comics is the scenery; it’s subtle in a way but then again so clearly Toronto. I can almost tell you the apartment on Ossington Street that Frances and Vickie live in, or that Frances just passed Central Tech on her walk. I like how it isn’t super obvious – no CN tower looming in every background, it is only something that you see if you lived in the city, or listened to Rilly talk about backgrounds in the book. The art is straightforward in a detailed type of way – the characters are never quite as fleshed out as the backgrounds but it may be intentional so the reader can place themselves in characters shoes.
There are many themes running through this book and I think the central prevailing thing is the attitude that Frances (and to some extent) Vickie subscribes to: “Today I’m crap but tomorrow I’ll be good”