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Tura and Eva #1-2

Written and illustrated by J. Sumii
Fecus Publications
32/28-page comic books, $2.50 each

 

Two sets of comics stereotypes meet in Tura and Eva #1, ©2005 J. Sumii.

 

Tura and Eva are two indy-girl characters whose comic has just been placed on hiatus. Wandering the city in search of something to do, they wind up picking a fight with superheroes Darla Dazzle and Disco Girl, stealing their costumes and landing in a series of misadventures that ultimately leads to their banishment from the city. From there, a trek through a nearby desert leads them to a city that I'm going to go ahead and call Apocalypseville, where survivalists and monsters engage in conflict.

Yeah, you've read all of this before. Drawn in a fairly skillful, DeCarlo-esque style and reasonably well-crafted so far as such things go, Tura and Eva nonetheless never comes very close to rising above the comic-book stereotypes from which it's been forged. Our heroines could be a blander Maggie and Hopey, a foulmouthed Betty and Veronica or an uprooted Katchoo and Francine — there's really nothing to distinguish them from any number of other funnybook heroines. Hell, only their hair color distinguishes them from one another to begin with. Lacking a reason to care about the series' protagonists, the reader subsequently has no incentive to forgive them for wandering around in a derivative comics landscape.

 

Tura and/or Eva — I forget which is which — finds herself lost in John Kricfalusiland in this panel from Tura and Eva #2, ©2005 J. Sumii.

 

It's not that J. Sumii doesn't know how to draw, or how to craft a narrative, or is unfamiliar with how comics work. It's just that Sumii either has nothing unique to bring to these stories, or simply lacks the confidence to put muse over perceived audience expectations. I suspect the latter — there are isolated moments where you can see a more accomplished creator beginning to emerge from the clichés, but it never lasts for longer than a panel or two. Still, one leaves these books with the impression of a talented beginner working through the tyro years, rather than an uninspired also-ran going through the motions. After all, Los Bros Hernandez made comics almost this pointless when they were starting out, too. Once Sumii sits down and decides the point of all this effort involved in telling stories, there's ample reason to hope that the result will be interesting comics. As the first two issues of Tura and Eva demonstrate, however, Sumii isn't there yet.

 

This essay appeared on the then-website of The Comics Journal sometime between 2006 and 2008.

 

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