What Did I Learn?
Today’s comic under review is Division and Rush, written and lettered by Todd Allen with art by Scott Bearderstat and published on the ChicagoNow blog. It covers some pretty controversial ground.
I have to start by showing you a quote about the comic. “…Division & Rush is a satire. Using the crime comic as a vehicle, we’re going to poke a little fun at Chicago crime and Chicago personalities. Law & Order doesn’t have a monopoly on current event driven plots, after all.
Our initial serial, “The Murder Professor,” contemplates the public’s reaction to Drew Peterson (and we should hasten to add Peterson is innocent until proven guilty) and puts a satirical lens over the scenario of what happens when someone the public and police are convinced is guilty walks away as a free man. It’s not Drew Peterson. It’s not OJ Simpson. No, our boy is ‘Stu Peterman.’ Click the comic panel below and we hope you get a chuckle out of ‘How Murderers Get Caught’…”
You can read much more about it in its proper context here. I find this concept fascinating but I’m a long way from Chicago and I’m full of questions about how readers are receiving this. The very first comment I saw was not very appreciative.
You see, Stu Peterson Peterman was legally acquitted of his alleged crimes and now flaunts the situation in both his private and public life. He is now hosting seminars about how to commit murder without getting caught. During all this, he has women throwing themselves at him and some of his students are beginning to take his killer advice. The comic focuses on the police as they attempt to investigate each crime (and Peterson) and the assorted legal shenanigans that keep Peterson out of prison. The issue of celebrity is raised further when minor celebrities get in on the act and Stu discusses the fringe benefits of fame.
This is where we see that one negative comment does not usually tell the whole story and I expected to see a lot more. The actual Drew Peterson is still in the news as of this writing so it has to be a hot button issue. The writer did mention in an interview that he mostly gets emails instead of public comments. These comments are focused on the Drew Peterson satire and while a few are offended, many more seem to be enjoying it as a guilty pleasure. The comic is currently more about the reaction to a fictional criminal than anything else and I can only speculate that the audience respects the tone of the work. In the comic, the police want to jail Stu and he keeps escaping.
I am also intrigued by ChicagoNow’s willingness to expand into comics for the masses (under the Chicago Tribune’s publishing banner, no less.) From one interview, I understand the hope was to follow current events pretty closely using comics as a vehicle. I am curious about reader counts, public reaction and the sort of approach a company takes in promoting a comic by using its established media platform. I asked for more information but I really did not give the folks at ChicagoNow much time to respond before posting – I will update this review with further info when I get it.
The art is is created in black and white with somewhat sketchy line and added grey tones. This serves nicely to create for dramatic lighting when needed and sets an appropriate mood. If you look closely you’ll notice other little touches like the lawyer’s fancier dialog font in chapter three that add to the reading. In rereading the comic a couple of times, I was hard pressed to find a panel that failed to drive the story forward.
And I ask you, in what other comic do you get Morgan Freeman playing as Count Dracula? Okay, it’s not actually in the comic- but still. That demonstrates that Division and Rush is not meant to be taken too seriously despite the fairly serious subject matter.
What Did I Learn?
I like the direction that comics are going in. They are no longer solely for the funny papers and cape lovers anymore. As of this review date, the story arc is about halfway through. It’s a quick read and this is probably a very good spot to jump in and catch up with Division and Rush.