Johanna Liked Toupydoops #6, But...

People send me PDFs for review. Here's my thoughts on one. Bear in mind that I use a laptop, so my screen space is minimal, and by the time I blow up the pages to be able to read the dialogue, I'm looking at individual panels, not full pages. It's not the most ideal format, but it's effectively free for both of us. Toupydoops #6 is the best issue yet. Kevin McShane's characters are as distinctively animated as ever, but new co-writer CJ Julian brings extra snap to the proceedings.

Toupy's an alien-looking aspiring actor in a Hollywood based around comic books instead of movies. Teetereater is still his slick best friend, a hit with women and a conman player. This issue, however, when the two head to a premiere party, Toupy's the one who hits it off with a gorgeous lady. I'm glad the lug finally got a good night out.

The opening scene sets up the opposite expectation; Teeter's all slick and "oh, yeah, lots of hot women will be inside this hip gathering", while Toupy's tired of expecting yet another night of being ditched by his friend and being turned down, like has happened every time before.

The story involves more than just typical patterns of male hunting and dating interactions with women, although those are funny enough to see. In the character of Ashley, Toupy's date, Julian and McShane tackle the compromises aspiring actors may have to make in order to get a toehold in an appearance-focused industry, whether it's contemplating radical body changes or showing up somewhere they hate just to be seen. Toupy has more in common with Ashley than he thinks, only she's obviously been in town (and shaped by it) much longer than he has.

Toupy's often the naive youngster in attitude, putting what would otherwise seem normal in sharp relief. He's also charming in his innocence when it comes to dating, especially in comparison to Teeter (who's fun to watch getting his commupance, given his smarm). Typical of the series, some existing Hollywood elements are simply translated. In this issue, they introduce the Walk of Fame, only in their world, the stars are for Archie or Robin or touchingly, Betty Boop.

There's an unfortunate whiff of gay panic in some of the comedy scenes, which takes an otherwise Very Good issue to Good. It's no different from a sitcom to have the two men show up at a "hot new club" that turns out to be a gay bar and then run away in fear when they realize their mistake, but it's not right there either. And it's not just a one-off joke; it's echoed at least two other times in the issue. In one of those other scenes, it's taken even further in suggesting being thought gay would be the most terrible thing ever. I don't understand how someone involved in Hollywood could be so retrograde on this particular subject.