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‘The One Trick Rip-Off + Deep-Cuts:’ Advance Hardcover Review


One Trick RipoffI have to confess that one of my favorite sub-genres is the low level gang drama. I love it when these stories involve double and triple crosses and the contradiction of trying to maintain a sense of morality while operating outside the law. In case you haven’t guessed, Paul Pope’s The One Trick Rip-Off is this kind of book. It is a beautifully sad story of trying to escape the life of petty crime. Or it’s an action-packed character piece about a criminal who is willing to betray his colleagues to get ahead. Or it’s just a good story that fits into several genres without feeling trapped by any of them.

The story is fast-paced and fun, but it doesn’t feel like the story is driven by plot so much as character. The characters move through the story with a determination that borders on manic. You can feel the mistakes and betrayals coming every step of the way.

The art is as chaotic and exciting as the story. My knowledge and understanding of art ranges from “I know what I like,” to “Honey, what did you think of that?” I thought the art style fit the book and helped to convey how far past control the story went. One aspect of the art that deserves special mention is the lettering. The letters often spill out of their tidy word bubbles into the background. In some cases they take over the entire panel. The effect is perfect and helps to drive home the chaos that the story falls into.

Beside the main story, there are nearly a decade’s worth of short stories and musings on various themes. Some are pure comedy, some are dramatic plot-driven stories, and some are melancholic poems. All are beautifully illustrated and interesting. My favorite is about a dream that Pope had where he is horribly disfigured. It is both a small and personal story of dealing with and (hopefully) learning from tragedy and an exploration of the solitary life as an artist. It is a beautiful piece and most of the collected work is nearly as compelling.

I would be able to recommend this book on the strengths of either the first story or the collected works that follow it. The art is not quite like anything else I’ve read. The writing is multilayered and compelling. In short, this book is strange, interesting, and deserving of your time.

Four and a Half Last-Scores-to-Get-Us-Out-of-this-Life out of Five.



Ben Rhodes, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python


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