blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The One-Trick Rip-Off (1993-96)

OnetrickripoffThe One Trick Rip-Off isn’t a failed heist story. Paul Pope plays a lot with that genre, updating it to Los Angeles street gangs. Pope’s Los Angeles setting is an entirely different subject, one I’ll get out of the way. One Trick’s setting is lush–both in Pope’s lines and the colors–always urban, but still somehow organic. Pope’s use of the stars and the city skyline are both great ways to make it breath, especially the stars. The first star scene has the protagonists talking about constellations. They obviously aren’t visible, but Pope convinces the reader to look anyway.

All right, setting out of the way. Back to the genre. One Trick was originally serialized; some of the chapters are more obvious than others, but it also shows how Pope’s unveiling events. It opens with a classic heist planning scene and then Pope does whatever he can do make that scene impossible in the narrative. He later brings it back, which is something of a genre standard. But then Pope breaks One Trick out of the genre with the finish. It’s like he acknowledges what the genre’s limits and bypasses it.

Pope deftly prepares the protagonists for the transition. He spends a lot of time on his characters; the protagonists are actually the least jazzy. They’ve got a good story, especially with the genre shift, but Pope saves the flash for the supporting cast.

As for the art? It’s concurrently sublime and frantic.

It’s a great book.


Writer and artist, Paul Pope; colorists, Jamie Grant and Dominic Regan; letterer, Michael Neno; editor, Bob Schreck; publisher, Image Comics.

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