Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Maximum Minimum Wage

 Where have you been all my life, MINIMUM WAGE....?

 Somehow, I've managed to miss out on Bob Fingerman's outrageously funny comic for the past (Nearly...) two decades, but thanks to Image Comics, that's all been rectified by their massive collection MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE.

 I really couldn't say just how much of MINIMUM WAGE was based on Fingerman's life, but everything in this book rings remarkably true. The saga of Cartoonist Rob Hoffman, his loopy girlfriend Sylvia, and his circle of friends and acquaintances is hilariously funny, brutally honest, and often deeply touching. I'm not the type of person who laughs out loud while reading a book, but there were probably 10 or 15 different sequences in MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE that had me howling. Your mileage may vary, but as someone who grew up in The Bronx and spent a considerable amount of time on the subway, I fell in love with this book as soon as Rob sees some random girls get punched by a jacked up Rastafarian who screams "BAM! I GOTCHOO, NIGGA!" as he wallops each girl. Yes, I laughed at a homeless loon punching teenaged girls. I'm a horrible person. But, as any subway-dweller can tell you: If it happens to you, it's tragedy. If it happens to someone else, it's comedy. Rob's journey through the jungle of freelance cartooning and his rocky relationship with the halfway-crazy Sylvia takes up the better part of 300 pages, and by the time you reach the end, you'll feel like you know these characters as well as your real friends. Fingerman's story and art work masterfully right from the beginning, yet somehow manages to improve as the book goes on.I was sorry to turn the last page....

 The book contains every issue of MINIMUM WAGE, as well as the script for the unfinished 11th issue, a cover gallery, and a huge selection of MINIMUM WAGE pin-ups by a stellar selection of guest artists.

 I can't recommend this enough. Image Comics has produced a massive, beautiful compendium of comic wonderfulness. Do yourself a favor and discover MINIMUM WAGE. Or re-discover it. You'll be glad you did.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.