Writer: Mark Miller
Artist: Carlos Granda
Publisher: Black Mask
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)
Dear Mark Miller,
(Not the one who wrote KICK ASS and should be running all of Fox’s comic book properties across DC and Marvel if we lived in a world where story trumped TradeMarks),
I just finished reading PIROUETTE 1, my reaction remains as steadfast and unchanging as when you first unleashed the news to us before we started taping a Spoiler Alert Podcast about 18 months ago.
Vividly I recall your droopy dog Midwestern tone seeping out, “Hey guys, I’m doing another book for Black Mask, this one is about a clown.”
My New Jersey/Philadelphia caring tone soothingly replied: “Are you special? What the sweet shit is wrong with you? You have the opportunity to work with Carlos again, and you are wasting it on a profession that is merely entertaining to brains that haven’t developed past age 4 and instills either terror or blind rage in 80% of the population after age 4? Why do you hate fame?”
I have context for these questions; in the past 8 years I have known Miller as my editor on Ain’t It Cool, my Snyder as I played his Tynion on JUNGLE BOOK, and most importantly my friend through it all he has been there to shamelessly exploit these bonds for feedback and reviews whenever he has a new book coming out. One might think he is looking for favor or bias, but to the contrary his unwavering search for truth is actually masochistic in design. That’s why he asks the one friend he knows will not pull punches, but rather donkey punch the work into a coma out of love…and shit.
Let us look at a few of these past hooves to your bald head Mark so my feelings on PIROUETTE are seen as pure and golden as Pony Boy:
7 Years Ago: MUSCLES AND FIGHTS.
This publishing house from Wisconsin has accomplished publishing a book. Mark Miller writes, and does a PhotoShop art thing that I frankly found scary. That’s it MUSCLES AND FIGHTS is a horror book. WELL DONE
4-5(ish) Years Ago
NANNY AND HANK is a much needed bite to the current defanging of the vampire genre. The idea of octogenarians finding new life, albeit undead, allowed Miller to infuse humor and heart into a “Cocoon” like revelry of rejuvenated golden years. This book would be an instant classic, if it wasn’t being churned out in the 7th layer of hell by Satan, and was given an artist who thinks humans should look exactly like Muppets.
3-4(ish) YEARS AGO
JUNGLE BOOK, Miller has successfully breathed new life into the tale of Baloo and Mogwii. Yes, the once concave chested boy is now sporting a B-Cup, but the D-Cup on the cover is merely a ruse folks. Miller and Granda skipped the cheesecake for a substantive diet of story and words.
JUNGLE BOOK 2 I could not review for ethical reasons Mark told me I should have since I was co-writing the back stories. It was nice to learn ethics.
Last Year: OCCUPY COMICS
Mark actually trusted me to review OCCUPY COMICS without letting my personal politics bleed into the review. Well, his liberal claptrap is delivered pleasingly with a fun pirate theme. The words are melodically written and the art is a nice cloudy haze. This was still a more useless movement than a “Too Fat to Live” subject being given laxatives.
So with that trip down memory lane, you should take your next pull quote with an extra ounce of pride good sir:
PIROUETTE is Miller, Granda’s and Black Masks’ first book to challenge Big 2 quality in art and form, without sacrificing the indie spirit of shuddering social commentary.
This book is not about clowns; it is about servitude of the soul with no escape. It’s not even about the circus, but more the social structures that oppress us all.
You and I are a bit of Pirouette, even though she is a fifteen-year-old girl riding through the Midwest in a time when America was starting to thrive post WWII. Miller really doesn’t define a time, but Granda does with dress, décor and little wisps of machinery and cars in the background. Honestly, you really have to look to see these details because Granda made the foreground so absolutely gorgeous. Time like reality are purposefuly and wisely left ethereal.
After the horrifying realization on page 1, that Pirouettes clown mask never comes off, we see the resilience of the human spirit to play the roles we are given. How many of us are truly what we do each day to feed our families or to simply play a part on society? She dutifully entertains patrons with antics, which were surprisingly not as annoying as I find usual clown games.
Also like us Pirouette dreams of a grander existence, why toil in the sweat of the masses when she knows she has the talent to soar above on the trapeze? Some cunty blonde Ukrainians is why. These oppressors remind her why she can not fly until she reminds them that clowns are evil creatures with a sabotage to their act that leaves neither profits or Pirouette unscathed. Who among us has not tried to usurp our oppressors at least once?
Power, struggle and the horrors of loneliness are Pirouette’s true burdens, the circus is merely a myopic mechanism in which Miller clearly finds a safe haven to expose some very raw nerves of the human experience.
For the less esoteric plot and hero’s journey, we learn that Pirouette might not be the child of the clowns who claim to own her, and that her real life might be found in Lima, Ohio. Personally I’d rather stay in a nightmare circus than ever visit Ohio again, but I am not a native son nor lover of either.
As we see American Horror Story: Freak Show about to capture TV audiences with the same exact themes of family and freaks in post-Hitler America, I can’t help but think that I am the oddball in my initial aversions to PIROUETTE. Miller captured a zeitgeist, an air of the public conscious once again to explore our darkest eternal fears through grease paint and silly fucking noses.