Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Review: Action Figure #1

Action Figure #1Action Figure #1
by Richard Marcej
Baboon Books, $3.50

In the first issue of Action Figure we are introduced to Richard Marzelak, a twenty-nine-year-old artist who works a 9-5 job at a toy company by day and draws comic strips for submission to the syndicates by night. Richard works in one of those offices we frequently see or read about in entertainment media that have the unfair, hard-ass boss; the sleazy sexual harasser, the impossibly unobtainable beauty, etc. In this first issue, Richard gets pulled off a plum assignment that is being given to the new artist and is instead stuck on a nowhere, no-brainer panda bear assignment instead, just as work comes down that the company has landed a plum contract with a Japanese anime property.

In his cover letter that came along with the review copy, Marcej as much as admits that he's drawing heavily on his own career as inspiration for this comic. He's no Harvey Pekar, and there's just too much in this first issue that feels like standard sitcom set-up. There are a couple of ways that Marcej could take the story to give it more of a unique vibe: bringing us deep inside the world of toys; and/or showing us why and how Richard Marzelak is a unique and interesting person in that world.

Fortunately Marcej has a couple of things going for him in this first issue. He has a good sense of storytelling and design; the comic flows very smoothly, and there's wonderful use of third color spot reds to highlight when Richard's active fantasy life takes over his attention. It's also an inherently interesting setting for a workplace comic, as long as the story gets beyond the standard office tropes.

According to Marcej this first issue did not meet Diamond's order threshold and will not be carried by the #1 distributor. Which is a shame, because this is an attractive, solid comic with an eye-catching cover and high production values, and one that shows promise. So while you probably won't be able to find it at your local comic store, if it sounds interesting you can order it directly from the self-publisher.

Rating: 3 (of 5)

(A review copy of this comic was provided by the creator.)

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