I’m kind of obsessed with Eric Powell’s The Goon these days — Ian got back into it and I got tired of hearing him snicker from the couch and not being in on the joke, sort of how he felt when I was reading Hyperbole and a Half and got laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe or explain why I was laughing. The Goon hits all the right notes for me; neo-noir, paranormal, voodoo and old-skool zombies, violence and humor and hyper-stylized, Depression-era settings. Plus I have a weird little crush on Franky that I can’t quite explain.
…But I just finished reading Chinatown and Holy Cats, I haven’t read a comic that awesome since The Hard Goodbye (also: I don’t read comics very often). I actually cried at the end, when Franky’s sitting there at The Goon’s hospital bed after taking page after page of beatings while The Goon is out kicking it with Isabella. It hit home, in a strange way.
Most people want to be the hero of their own stories. Me, I tend to be the sidekick because I’m high strung and excitable and I generally need someone to keep me leveled out. I’m the Max to Ian’s Sam, the Shane Vendrell to Matthew’s Vic Mackey. I’m good in a fight and quick with a quip, I’m smart and I think fast and I’m good on my feet. Great skills to have as a reporter, good skills to have when you’re trying to say, gaslight someone and weedle your way into their empire. The downside, especially with someone like Matthew, is that damn it, sometimes you need to go in with shotguns blasting and not take so damn long to put all the chess pieces in place.
The problem with being a sidekick, however, is that sometimes, well, you get pushed off to the side. I once got left the edge of a dance floor because Matthew got wrapped up in talking to a girl he didn’t even like, a girl we called The Jawa.
And that’s where Chinatown hit so damn hard for me. Because when you’ve got male friends, sometimes dames get in the way. Sometimes those dames are great, like my friend Bridget, who married my friend Eeon. Sometimes those dames are no good, and the worst part about a no-good dame is that no one wants to hear their dame is no good. And when you’re a dame yourself, they’ve always got that “you’re just jealous” card to play. And sometimes I was jealous, because I was young and stupid. But I’ve lost more than one friendship over no-good dames, and though I’ve manage to recover all of them, there were a lotta years of heartbreak in between.
So when The Goon’s mummy’d up in bandages and Franky sits down by his bedside and says “Dames come and go, but pals stick together,” I just started bawling. Like, mascara-down-the-cheeks kinda crying. Partially because the characters feel so real, not just bullshit neo-noir stock types like every Sin City comic after The Hard Goodbye, but mostly because it reminded me of all the times I stupidly let a dame — or anything, really — get in between me and a friend.