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Derek Hunter Is A Fuck
posted October 11, 2010
Self-Published, mini-comic, 40 pages, 2010, $3
This is one handsome-looking production. Derek Hunter's collection about his being an asshole gets the first-class mini-comic treatment: a glossy cover, a few design flourishes in a mostly straight-forward presentation, sharp reproduction on all pages, a bunch of work under one cover in a style that drives readers into close study and contemplation, and, given all of these things, a lovely price point. Mini-comics cartoonists should go buy a copy from Hunter at their next, shared show just to see how much difference this kind of detail work makes. If all small-press cartoonists worked to this standard, reading mini-comics would be that much more frequent of a pleasure.
Starting a review of a comic with notes on its production qualities as opposed to engaging its content is kind of a shitty thing to do. Derek Hunter will certainly understand, as this book is basically a parade of stunts and obnoxious behavior a full pay level above anything I could muster moving some paragraphs around. Hunter has a stylized, blocky visual approach slightly reminiscent of art I think of when I think of the British small press, and he's generally amusing, and I can't imagine too many people picking up this book as a spur-of-the-moment convention purchase thinking they didn't get their money's worth upon devouring it. There's even something of a recurring window into a fascinating sub-culture: that of Mormon-dominated urban and suburban Utah, its hypocrisies and absurdities, which Hunter pounds with relish.
I found it disheartening, then, that instead of merely presenting his stories of bad behavior, Hunter creates a version of himself presenting these stories and maintains a "look at what I'm up to" persona even directly within portions of the various tales. The problem with this strategy is that Hunter never convinced me that his decision to tell these stories was as worthy of my attention as the stories themselves. He's in the way, just sort of around, talking you through things, maybe even subtly deflecting some criticism by subliminally suggesting distance between then and now (we might hate Hunter in the stories, but we don't hate Hunter telling us the story) or indicting the bizarre, dominant culture as a context for what he did. Those two tracks never come together in a cohesive, understandable way, and I think the overall experience suffers for it.