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Miss Don't Touch Me
posted September 10, 2009
 

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Creators: Hubert, Kerascoet
Publishing Information: NBM, softcover, 96 pages, December 2008, $14.95
Ordering Numbers: 1561635448 (ISBN10), 9781561635443 (ISBN13)

The one problem with the old argument about the need for "true mainstream" comics is that works fitting that description tend to be ignored. The two translated albums-in-one Miss Don't Touch Me isn't a movie starring talking hamsters, but were it a film it'd be the kind that would play small-town film series circuits for quite some time and have a lengthy run on cable where it would drive 80 percent of various web sites' "Sex In Cinema" features come the end of the year. Young, fearful Blanche loses her beloved sister to what she's certain are the machinations of a locally renowned serial killer. Cast out on her own but determined to find the killer, our very young, in-fact virginal hero lands at a bordello where she finds work not as a maid but as a kind of unattainable object that serves clients by denying their requests and smacking them with a whip. With the help of one of the girls, she eventually discovers what happened to her sister. If it's hard to say with 100 percent conviction that justice is served, certainly the reader's curiosity is satiated.

imageThe most appealing things about the work are those elements that entertain. The pacing snaps right along, even through a difficult progression in Blanche's role as primary protagonist. The art not only works at this smaller than album size but is elegant enough it allows for pages stuffed with information. Ten- to twelve-panel pages are common, and it feels more like a substantial reading experience as a result. The character design leans perhaps a bit too heavily on exaggeration but there are some very effective cartoon signifying elements employed; this is important considering how many female characters there are, and how we have to have a sense of several such characters at once. The murder-mystery works as both an element to move the plot along and as a way to place several of the characters in potential danger, ratcheting up the drama. I have to imagine that many will find the book's overall sex-positive, matter-of-fact vibe tremendously appealing. Even when there are difficulties in the lives of a few of the girls, it's never an indictment of the sex involved as much as it is telling commentary on the class aspects of certain gender relationships. I also thought Blanche was very funny in the peculiar role in which she lands, the way the little girl in her continues to seep through the racier aspects of what she's asked to do.

Miss Don't Tell Me's shortcomings also emanate from its more entertaining aspects. Few of the characters if any make an impression past being an evocation of type. I can't remember ever being surprised by anything any member of the cast does, in that initial way that well-rounded characters bring to the table with regularity. In the end, the crime involved isn't particularly memorable, not in its practicalities, not in terms of the motivations involved. No one enjoys much of a character arc. It never comes close to being transcendent work. But it's solid, and funny, and I was entertained. In that, at least, you'll get no complaints from me.