The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 9 | “Grrl Scouts” Vol. 1 and 2 TPB reviews

Leaving Proof 9 | “Grrl Scouts” Vol. 1 and 2 TPB reviews
Published on Thursday, October 21, 2010 by

[Author’s note: The text in this article originally appeared on on 25 August 2010 and may have had its content changed or edited since its initial online publication]

Grrl Scouts, Vol. 1
  • grrl scouts vol 1(Image Comics, 2003, 128 pages; reprints the 1998 Grrl Scouts miniseries published by Oni Press)
  • Story & Art: Jim Mahfood
  • Lettering: Sean Konot
  • Cover Colours: Guy Major
  • Cover Price: $12.95 US

Jim Mahfood is probably one of the higher-profile independent comic book creators these days. He’s done a series of well-received ads and limited edition can designs for Pabst/National Brewing’s Colt 45 malt liquor brand, he’s contributed to a number of Marvel Comics anthologies and special projects, and he even did art for the Jennifer’s Body feature film’s tie-in comic book (and if getting paid to draw Megan Fox isn’t a sign of mainstream comics success, I don’t know what is).

grrl scouts vol 1bGrrl Scouts, Vol.1 collects some of Mahfood’s earlier work, a 4-issue mini-series originally published by Oni Press. Grrl Scouts is basically about Daphne, Rita, and Gwen, three sexy young women, life-long friends who run their hometown’s illicit trade in marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Make no mistake, though, this isn’t a “grim and gritty” street-level crime book. While not exactly a straight-up comedy title, much of the title’s dynamic revolves around humourous situations, although there’s a level of violence that sometimes seems at odds with the overall tone of the book. The first volume starts out well enough, but by the fourth chapter, descends into a confused mess that’s one part half-baked college undergraduate screed against Big Business and one part 1980s action B-movie. A lot of the fun and spontaneity that buoys up the first three-quarters of the book is missing in the TPB’s third act, which is largely a humdrum and by-the-numbers affair, made more disappointing by the fact that there should be nothing humdrum and by-the-numbers about a team of super-sexy, kung-fu fighting pot dealers.

Mahfood’s distinctive art style was already somewhat crystallized during the stage of his career that he did this title. I imagine his graffiti-and-urban art inspired black-and-white stylings probably won’t appeal to everyone, especially not to those who rarely venture beyond superhero comics, but I like his work here. His layouts are easy to follow, and he has a knack for infusing characters with emotion and personality not often seen in mainstream North American sequential art.

All in all a decent read, but probably not worth going out of one’s way to seek out.

Grrl Scouts, Vol. 2: Work Sucks
  • grrl scouts vol 2 cover(Image Comics, 2004, 140 pages; reprints the 2002 Grrl Scouts: Work Sucks miniseries)
  • Story, Art, Lettering: Jim Mahfood
  • Cover Colours: Jack Gray
  • Cover Price: $12.95 US

The material for the second volume of Mahfood’s Grrl Scouts was created roughly four years after the first mini-series, and it comes as no surprise that his writing and art have vastly improved in the interim.

Grrl Scouts Vol 2cThe TPB finds Daphne, Rita, and Gwen looking to get out of the drug dealing business and getting real jobs. I don’t know if Mahfood is deliberately using the story as an allegory for his own move to mainstream commercial art, but given the tone of the writing and the timing of its release, it certainly seems like it. The violence has been dialed down a tad from the previous volume, and what there is is used mostly for comedic effect.

But what this really feels like is a farewell letter from Mahfood to his three creations. The Grrl Scouts are all growing up and growing older. There’s a poignancy to the over-arching story that should feel genuine to anyone who has had to come to the realization that life stops being about fun and games after a certain age. A good read, but in my opinion, can only really be fully appreciated within the context of Mahfood’s career progression and how it might have changed his own attitudes about comics and art in general.

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