In which I prove I may at times be a bastard.
Over the 45 years since I read my first in the early summer of 1967 I have read tens of thousands of them in a variety of genres from mainstream superheroes and their pulp forerunners, westerns, sci-fi, war, slice of life/ indy, art comics, fantasy, horror and a wide swath of Vertigo’s catalog, and a little manga. However, biography comics are my usually to my taste; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and the less well received Are You My Mother are two notable exceptions. 15 Minutes – Kim Kardashian is no Fun Home and in fairness it doesn’t try to be and shouldn’t. But as a biography in comic format it simply fails and fails spectacularly. Shapiro’s script, while no doubt researched, does little more than inform the reader of triumphs and travails of the needlessly famous Kardashian’s love life and her hangers-on family guiding and supporting her through the tragedies. Much if not all the same information and more can be gleaned from Wikipedia and I imagine other sources that I won’t be bothered to spend time looking for. Andy Warhol may have been more right than wrong when he said in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, but that doesn’t mean a rich, spoiled brat with an expensive lifestyle and impeccable makeup deserves 15 minutes let alone the 45 minutes plus it seems she’s having.
With an uninspired script an additional burden is placed on the artist to bring the characters and their situations to life. The majority of Mr Hernawan’s art on display in this comic would be promising if he were eleven years old. Right, that seems harsh, but I said the majority because there are hints here and there of more skill. Enough so that I was curious and came upon samples of other work on the Internet which did indeed prove my hunch true. One distinction between the work in this comic and the other pieces is that this was sequential art whereas the other pieces are primarily illustrations. Still. In one panel Hernawan drew the poster child for wealthy entitlement with her head tossed back and laughing heartily with a handful of dollars as more float down around her. Truly nothing notable aside for her being drawn with a set of teeth that surely no human in real life has ever had – apparently a short row of extra upper molars on each side. Even when taking into account foreshortening, the panel highlighting the sex tape with Kim and Ray J with its mashed up anatomy will have you yearning for the physically impossible contortions of Guillem March’s Selina of the original Catwoman #0 cover. Plus, there are two hearts. Not human hearts, but those heart shapes we all learned to make for grade school Valentine’s Day projects, used as elements. Well, one is drawn as broken glass, but broken glass in a Valentine’s heart shape. The art appears to have been reproduced directly from Hernawan’s pencil work and crisp india ink outlines would be a welcome enhancement. Layouts are poorly and unimaginatively drafted, again, I imagine due to a lack of experience in sequential art. Kardashian’s trademarked silky jet black tresses are rendered as barely decorative and sexually unappealing masses and rendered flat either for expediency’s sake or the consistent lack of any distinct light source throughout the story. I would offer the suggestion to Mr Hernawan to work more on honing the necessary techniques for creating sequential art and to understand how it differs from illustration. The coloring is likewise sophomoric. As an artist I know first hand creating lifelike skin tones can be challenging and I can see from all the Kardashian pics on the Internet that she’s nicely tanned. That said, the colorists seem to have replicated a shade oranger than Mitt Romney’s tan when he appeared on Univision. The skin tones here of the African American men she’s been involved with are all the same lifeless shade, a color made of burnt sienna and dulled down with Idaho potato peel tan, or whatever their CMYK equivalents are.
Maybe I’m simply jealous of a person whose finances are better than mine or whose life has been commodified as a product and therefore I ‘m taking such blatant swipes at the work of these people to assuage my ego. True, I would never have read this if the publisher had not supplied a PDF review copy and I will admit to being guilty of having a writer’s block and looking for easy content. Judge me as you like for that. Also true is the fact I’ve read very little and enjoyed even less of past Bluewater books. I don’t fit most or nearly all of its target markets and I have absolutely minimal interest in any of the Kardashians, though I wish Kim and family well in the same sense I wish puppies and kittens and all humans who’ve not committed atrocities a good life. Nor do I wish less payment or opportunities to pursue their dreams and or work for Shapiro, Hernawan and the rest, but there are standards for publishing and this comic should not have printed as such in my opinion. However, 15 Minutes Kim Kardashian may perhaps appeal to the most devoted of Kardashian fans, devotees of wealthy people of Armenian descent, or people who have an overriding attraction to all things camp. The only purpose I can see for this is to use it as a “please explain how Kardashian’s relationships are better than gay ones” talking point prop about marriage equality with religious and political conservatives.