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October 3rd, 2012 RUTH BROWN | Books
 

Jeff Parker and Erika Moen, Bucko

The director’s cut.

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In the age of DVRs, Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and, let’s be honest, BitTorrent, there’s very little reason to buy DVDs of movies and TV shows—unless they come packed with extras. That’s the attitude writer Jeff Parker and artist Erika Moen take in the print edition of their 2011 Web comic, Bucko. While the book’s primary purpose is bringing together 12 months of work into one physical package, it’s all the other bits that really make it worth buying. Each page has conversation-style commentary from Parker and Moen, explaining the story behind the characters, jokes and the bits they screwed up; each of the four “acts” is punctuated by longer behind-the-scenes pieces; and there are almost 20 pages of the literary equivalent of “bonus features,” including sketches, emails and extra strips. 

Featuring Periscope Studio artists Parker and Moen and published by Dark Horse, the comic is about as Portlandy as it could get without featuring a vintage Pendleton-print cover and a cameo by Sam Adams. The eponymous “Bucko” is an unemployed bike enthusiast who hooks up with a full-time Etsy seller and her uninhibited lesbian housemate. They find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery after Bucko turns up with a vicious hangover to a telemarketing job interview and finds a corpse on the bathroom floor. There are plenty of familiar tropes to snigger knowingly over: fixies, Suicide Girls, plug earrings, Juggalos, bridge-raising jokes, steampunks, hobos and ghost bikes. 

But fortunately Portland is a supporting character rather than the comic’s raison d’être. Much of the book’s appeal comes from Parker’s (who has worked on a number of titles for Marvel, including X-Men: First Class, and his collaboration with Steve Lieber, Underground) lowbrow sense of humor and fast-paced, off-the-wall storytelling, though it’s Moen (best known for her long-running autobiographical Web comic DAR) who really sells the story, with a lighthearted illustration style that keeps what is ultimately a violent story full of unpleasant people funny rather than dark, and a knack for conveying action and movement that propels the reader from one panel to the next. 

Paying real money for something you can see online may sound as antiquated a notion as a VHS box set, but by collecting not just the strips themselves, but the story behind how they came into existence, Bucko has set a high bar for Web-comic trade paperbacks, and gives even long-term online readers a reason to lay down $20 for a copy.


GO: Jeff Parker and Erika Moen release Bucko at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 228-4651, on Thursday, Oct. 4. 7:30 pm. Free.

 
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