‘Stumptown’ features genuine art, engaging content

Perusing through the graphic novel section of a big box chain store can be intimidating, even if you think you know what you’re looking for. Companies pay big bucks to have the clout to get your product in your face, inundated with “books you’re supposed to be reading.” That being said, it’s those books that are sometimes the most accessible, getting the most press.

I was looking for a newer collection from one of the big two, written by a newcomer to the distinguished competition after years on the other side — it’s a whole thing, they’ve been stealing from each other for ages. This guy has created a new line for the company and a new character that is supposed to have ramifications across the entire multiverse. The title is also supposed to dovetail nicely into one of the books I’m currently reading.

So I did the only thing I could think of — I bought something else.

In it’s stark blue, yellow and black cover, “Stumptown” from Oni Press stuck out to me not only visually, but also because I’ve been hearing the name in commercials now that the namesake is a show on ABC. “Stumptown” is written by veteran scribe Greg Rucka, a mainstay in comics, but police procedural drama in general. The detective stuff isn’t my most favorite to watch (or read) and I’m definitely into more of a cross-pollination of genres.

The show’s lead is Cobie Smulders, of Marvel Cinematic University fame, and she does well there. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and the first volume of “Stumptown” details just how deep actors can be typecast into roles: this isn’t crime drama with superheroes. “Stumptown” and Rucka play it straight.

Yet we’re not sure about our P.I. Dex Parios: there are heavy hints of sexuality and in one of the more memorable scenes she admits to still being unsure as to what team she’s playing for. Dex fits the private dick mold (with emphasis on that bit) all too well with her carousing, gambling, and the like. I’d like to know more of her story. Thank goodness there are three more volumes left to read.

Matthew Southworth and company handle the art, and the paneling on the first pages is as genuine as anything I’ve ever seen; the duck in flight after a gunshot sold me on this book alone.

I’ve yet to see the television show, so I’m unsure as yet to know whether or not it’s a new crime every week or if the writers take a page out of the series and develop a case over multiple episodes. Either way, I’m looking forward to more of both.

“Stumptown” by Oni Press is available at local comic and book stores, as well as internet outlets. The first volume “The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo (But Left Her Mini) runs at a paltry $10. All other volumes ring in at $17.99.