Sunday, March 2, 2014

REVIEW: "Maximum Minimum Wage" by Bob Fingerman (Image, 2013)

Maximum Minimum Wage (Image, 2013)
- originally published in Minimum Wage Book One,
Minimum Wage
#1-10 (Fantagraphics, 1995-99)

I FIRST remember seeing artist Bob Fingerman’s freelance work in some Yank porn rag back in the mid-90s. It was rude and crude, but I enjoyed the guy’s grotesque, exhuberant cartoons.

Still, I didn’t pick up any of his comics, even though i was aware of his semi-autobiographical comic series Minimum Wage around this time. And I’d read some comics he’d written (but not drawn) like Zombie World.

Recently, I learned that Minimum Wage was returning in a new series (which is the third volume in the series, I guess) from Image and decided to pick it up, and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

The tale of a struggling porno/humour mag cartoonist trying to survive in New York around the turn of the millennium really struck a chord with me (considering I was – and still am – a pornographer struggling to survive in Sydney).

In this sequel (two issues released to date), Rob’s a little bit older and little bit more bitter after going through a messy divorce while still in his 20s.

However he’s back on the dating scene while trying to keep working in the already-dying porn mag scene.

Having caught my attention, I was curious to read the original series (set in the mid-90s). Sure enough, the back cover of the first issue was an ad for an oversized hardcover collection titled Maximum Minimum Wage.

It details the stormy relationship of Rob and his Italian Catholic fiance Sylvia, covering everything from finding a flat together, beach etiquette, lecherous nephews, family deaths, abortion, sex, friendship, comic conventions, homophobia, celebrity stalking, marriage and eating brains (of the cow variety). It’s funny, silly, sad, aggravating...a lot like real life, I suppose. The book has added poignancy with hindsight knowing that Rob’s marriage to Sylvia falls apart very quickly once the book ends.

This hefty tome is as complete a collection as Minimum Wage fans can expect: the first volume (which was released as a graphic novel) plus all 10 issues of volume two. There’s also a bunch of covers, scripts, preliminary artwork and bonus pin-ups from a who’s who of comicdom (including Glenn Fabry, Hunt Emerson, Gilbert Hernandez, Roger Langridge, Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan).

It’s a handsome book and deserves a place in your bookshelf.

DANN’S RATING: ***** (that’s FIVE stars, baby!)
#minimumwage #maximumminimumwage #bobfingerman

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