Saturday 25 May 2024

Dave Sim recommends: Santos Sisters (New Dave Art!)

Hi, Everybody!

Dave sent a bunch of stuff:
Matt Dow
1) scan of Greg & Fake's Cerebus drawing
Click for bigger

2) My SANTOS SISTERS Pin-Up on its way to Greg and Fake in Chicago
It's original Dave Art, of course you have to click for bigger...

3) Rolly should have sent you SANTOS SISTERS cover scans last week.

THE SANTOS SISTERS "Finally, A Comic For Generation X".
"One day while combing the beach, the Santos Sisters discovered a pair of beautiful medallions. What happened next changed their lives forever."

It's like an ORIGIN COMICS 101 textbook. Keep It Simple, Stupid. The Simpler, the better.

There's riffing on ARCHIE COMICS, and "riffing" on ARCHIE COMICS. This is RIFFING on ARCHIE COMICS. On opening the box I had to look a couple of times to confirm that these weren't ARCHIE COMICS from the 1970s.

That's attributable to the print design which is as exact a match as you could get with the World Color Printing of that era. Slightly -- but ONLY slightly -- better quality newsprint, the cover stock is definitely an exact match. It's digital color but you would have to be a complete comics printing geek (like me) to recognize that it's definitely digital color. It's that faithful to the time period.

Right from the first story in No.1 (2020) "The Hotter the Lobster the Sweeter the Juice" (the actual first story created, "Hairy Teen", is reprinted in black and white in the back of issue No.1) Greg and Fake's difficult balancing act is tackled head on. On one level it's a completely cliched cute teen-aged super-heroines kick ass facade. Using ray guns they're shooting a mass invasion of Rob Liefeld-looking Reggie Mantle (and Reggie Mantle-looking Rob Liefeld) clones. But it's also Betty and Veronica. But it's also riffing on Generation X dating habits and popular psychology. What if Betty and Veronica were having "The Talk" in 2024?

Alana: Does Dirk even know about Jake?
Ambar: Dirk is not my boyfriend.
Alana: I just think it's weird that you spend all this time with Dirk and…
Ambar: …and what , Alana? Jake invited me to Hot Lobster. Have you ever had their bread bites?
Alana: You're a horrible person, Ambar. You may think you are justified , but you are being very cruel and hurtful. At least have the decency to acknowledge that.
Ambar: Why don't YOU acknowledge that you are sad and alone?
Alana: (as she's shooting the last Reggie/Liefeld clone) I realize that this behaviour gives you a sense of heightened empowerment and identity, but you're hurting both Dirk and Jake when you do things like this.
Ambar: Yes. The mental anguish I put my boyfriends through must be unbearable for them.

Madame Sosotris fills the sparkly magenta sky above them. "GREAT WORK, SANTOS SISTERS". We know it's Madame Sosotris because Ambar says "Madame Sosostris!! Who were those guys?" To which Madame Sosotris replies "Atalyke soldiers. Ankhovic was able to open an access portal to send them down to the surface level. Luckily Thoraxos was able to close it." It's a perfect Image Comics "teenage girls who kick ass" closer. We have no idea who Atalyke soldiers are, who Ankhovic is, what an access portal is, who Thoraxos is or how he closed it. It's the first-person-shooter video game ending to which super-hero comics have been reduced for decades. The bad guys are all dead by the end of page two and the Santos Sisters killed them. Not really important.

What's important is the dating discussion between Alana and Ambar. Which actually advances the decades-old Betty vs. Veronica discussion with Alana as Betty and Ambar as Veronica: "I realize that this behaviour gives you a sense of heightened empowerment and identity, but you're hurting both Dirk (Archie) and Jake (Reggie) when you do things like this."

Arguably (as in, I would argue) advancing the discussion because of the notation on the cover INRI (from the Latin Iesus Nazaraenus Rex Iudaeorum: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews) and John 3:16. Betty and Veronica were created early in the 1940s and Veronica was playing Archie off against Reggie pretty much from the beginning. Which isn't a moral approach to courtship and can only be perceived as "right dating" if the alternative is cast (as Ambar does here in reference to Alana) as being "sad and alone".

Page three introduces their civilian context. 
caption: Later that night.
Alana: Hey, Ambar. It looks like your new guy friend, Jake, is here.
Alana: Oh, it's Dirk.
Dirk: Hey, Alana, I am here to pick up Ambar.
Ambar (to Alana): Don't say a word.
Alana: Looks like our little chat we had earlier did some good.
Ambar: Or maybe someone else had to cancel.
Dirk: What got cancelled?
Ambar: Nothing, Dirk. Take me to Hot Lobster.

It's very well realized. Jake has cancelled which has wounded Ambar's vanity. So she isn't choosing Dirk because the more moral choice is to stick with the guy she's spending the most time with, she's doing so because she wants someone to take her to Hot Lobster. Which she turns into an instruction: "Take me to Hot Lobster". Not "Can we go to Hot Lobster?" concealing from Dirk what his situation is and degrading him to servant level in the process.

And Greg and Fake bring it all in for a landing in 3 PAGES!! It's really the most amazing thing about this most amazing book -- Greg and Fake's ability to keep virtually all of their stories to classic ARCHIE 3-, 4- and 5-page lengths.

No.3 "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" A great running gag in the strip is the fact that wherever the sisters go, Todd works there! A great riff on 21st century under-employment.

This one's interesting because it's the first Black character introduced in the book and she turns out to be a crazy villainess. Even saying the "c-word" in 2024 is problematic but…your first Black character? That certainly takes not only a certain amount of guts but a willingness to parody the Inclusiveness Pathology head-on. "We're riffing on Archie Comics, so no, we won't be doing identity politics Quotas. Here's our token black person. And as long as she's a token we might as well double down by making her crazy and having people call her crazy. Which if you're bombing a chain restaurant in a fit of pique over a two-dates-and-over "fling" certainly seems an apt descriptor.

Ambar: Todd, you work at the Oliver Garden?
Alana: She's your girlfriend?
Todd: We only went out twice. She is a crazy person.
8ball: I'm crazy? How can you say that I'm crazy? You're the one who said you loved me.
Todd: I specifically said I loved your outfit. I barely know you.
Alana: You told her you love her?

It really is a great motif. Whatever is going on in the Super-Hero Genre Cosmetics end of things, the book is, centrally, as much about dating and relationships as is ARCHIE'S PALS & GALS. Only "over the top" in the way only 21st century "swipe left/swipe right" dating could be ("That is the last time I will find a date online.") with the multi-levelled riff content distilled to the level of a haiku. I'm trying to limit my excerpting for that reason. While hopefully conveying the flavour.

In the back-up story "Kreg the Handsome Barbarian" the riff is on animal rights with Kreg attempting to liberate the Las Brisas Zoo.

Ambar: I don't even like animals. They're gross.

A female character who doesn't like animals? "They're gross"? Again, there's a 21st century authenticity to this. Only women can say politically incorrect things with 100% impunity.

Really can't recommend this one enough


You can get copies from the website.

The AMOC TeePublic Shoppe: up to 35% off:

Your store will be up to 35% off
May 24-27.*
*Sale dates are not final and therefore subject to change.
NEW Spawn 10 Lenticular covers from the The Waverly Press. You can click the link and get your own for $100 each.
The Help Out Bill Messner-Loebs Go Fund Me, or buy Rodney Schroeter's book with proceeds going to Bill. 
The Last Day Without nothing.
   "      "     "        "  Dave's signature.
   "      "     "        "  an Old Cerebus Remarque
   "      "     "     Auction catalog for the Panoramic Remarques
Oliver' Simonsen's Cerebus movie: The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphysical, and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus the Aardvark it's currently available on "Plex", "Xumo", "Vimeo On Demand", "Tubi". If you're in Brazil..."Mometu", "Nuclear Home Video".
Next Time: I STILL gotta play catch-up...


carmine said...

Santos sisters is one my favorite new series. every issue has been great

Tony Dunlop said...

That first drawing reminds me very much of the late, great Trina's "California Girls" book from, what, the mid - late 80s?