Review by Joe Palmer
Bluewater Productions publisher Darren Davis recently sent a blind/ BCC email talking about the upcoming release of its Female Force: Rosie O’Donnell comic to be release March 2nd and offered a preview PDF copy for review. I took the bait, as I did once before when offered a preview PDF of its Ellen bio comic; a book which I decided not to review as I was somewhat confused if the author intended to write about DeGeneres or her unnamed narrator that frequently appeared on panel. The art for that comic seemed somewhat ill suited for the material and not quite as polished as one would like. That said, the work of Sandra Ruckedeschel and Pedro Ponzo on the Ellen comic is hands above the work of the writer and artist for the Rosie comic, uncredited in the preview copy. The illustration adorning the cover here is beautiful. And that’s the extent of the cover artist’s work, which in itself is not an unusual practice in this industry.
One gets the feeling that something is amiss when credits aren’t included by the publisher. Who to praise? Who to critique? Who to be accountable? Dan Rafter and Fritz Saalfeld were attached as the writer and artist, at least according to the solicitation copy I snagged while compiling the February edition of my monthly Gay Previews based on the Previews catalog.
*UPDATE: It has now come to my attention that a different, unknown to me person drew this book. This calls into question who the writer is. My apologies for not fact checking.
The writer forgoes unnamed narrators in favor of having the characters from Rosie on down talk themselves. The story opens with Rosie having a dream in which Donald Trump meets his demise in the streets and starting with her stint on The View and tussles with Elizabeth Hasslebeck and then to a handful of panels of her childhood before hopscotching through a series of public events and incidents starting with her talk show. It’s my opinion that the writer doesn’t help his narrative when he has Madonna, Ellen, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest appear in an attempt to push forward. Take Ellen for example. The writer has “Rosie” say: “When Ellen came out, people loved her even more. She has that magic touch. It took American Idol to make people dislike Ellen. But only a bit.” Well, true, but then her first sit com tanked because it was gay, gay, gay, she hitched herself to big bag of crazy Anne Heche, became a pariah in Hollywood, and only started back on the Tinsel Town road of redemption through voicing Dory in Finding Nemo. Apologies for the digression. Then again, I may be ignorant of any real incidents involving these people and Rosie which would justify their use.
The interior artist is uncredited. His pr her art style is consistent and I believe an ill suited choice on the publisher’s side for the material. Firstly, this is a comic depicting real people (I hesitate to use “celebrities” as I dislike the word) and prospective readers will (and should) expect easily recognizable likenesses. Achieving likenesses is not the only challenge. A comic artist has to do that consistently for each character throughout a story while making characters believably interact, and creating believable environments or stages if you prefer for these characters. I know from first hand experience drawing a story focusing on two main characters how challenging sequential narrative art can be to convey on paper. The artist’s faces and bodies give me the sense that he may be most comfortable drawing caricatures, which I do not intend as a slam. Caricatures have a purpose and place in art and are quite often beloved. The abstracted anatomical sense displayed is also at odds with the material, as are rather flat perspective points, often out of scale sense of proportion, and fairly non-descriptive backgrounds in which the characters are meant to live and breathe but don’t. I’ve no idea how tight the deadline was for the artist, but I should like to think more time would have been beneficial for his output. It isn’t my intent to be cruel or hurtful, but I think more time learning the craft of sequential art is needed or accept work most suitable to your style.
I don’t know who the editor of this book is, but it seems to me a little more editorial oversight might have helped. At least in the instance of drawing a map of Florida.
Rosie is someone whom I enjoyed spending an hour with back during her talk show. Over the years she simply fell off my radar, not because I dislike her, more because her interests and appearances were no longer engaging me. While I did learn a couple new facts about her, I think I’d have come across the same information on the Internet. From a creative viewpoint the purpose of telling a story in comic format about Rosie or any public figure is to do it in a way that engages a reader that reading Google hits won’t. From a sales viewpoint I should want to pony up $3.99 (or $3 if I pre-order from my shop) for this comic. For me it failed on either front.