Johanna Visits the Subculture

Subculture #1 assembles clichés into a too-familiar story, running the risk of demonstrating contempt for the kind of reader it will attract. Kevin Freeman writes and Stan Yan draws the story of a depressed retail-rat comic reader. He hates his nowhere job. He hates his demanding boss. He goes to the comic store to complain about the books he buys. His friends there speculate on which superheroines don't wear underwear (and there's only one girl, a fat manga reader obsessed with our "hero"). His roommate does nothing but play video and card and role-playing games.

Then a new girl with multiple piercings enters the shop. She's an artist, opening a gallery, and she's got her own taste in indy books. She asks him out (good thing, or there'd be no series, since he has no initiative). She's perfect for him, pursuing him, talking comics with him.

The problem is, there's no sense of these characters beyond the surface. I do think it's well-meaning, an attempt to realistically capture the kind of characters the creators know or have known, but they're all different shades of unpleasant to look at and read about. I hope they get their happy ending, but I felt vaguely dirty after finishing the comic.

What's the point when we've all seen these stereotypes ourselves? And done better, in comics like Dork! or Box Office Poison? What insight is this book showing us about these character types? "I know people like this" isn't enough.