Bombaby #2, January 2004, SLG Publishing
by Anthony Mazzotta
If you’re wondering why I’m reviewing another book by Slave Labor Graphics (SLC), I purchased a brown-bagged “dinged or damaged” five-pack of back issues at the Con for a mere dollar. I first partook of this package deal at the Alternative Press Expo back in April with mixed results. This time around, I’ve been quite pleased with this quintet of pleasant surprises. Spookgirl was a fun read and Finder was an educational experience, both offering unique insight into the creative spectrum of indie comics. Today’s dose, Bombaby, not only provides yet another perspective artistically, but culturally, as well.
Bombaby (her real name is Sangeeta), a busty heiress in India, is engaged to a shifty businessman that she obviously doesn’t love, I presume through an arrangement made with her father. In this issue, during a jaunt through the city, Bombaby is nearly assaulted but thankfully narrowly saved by a pedestrian beefcake, Alexander. The two hit a discotheque and apparently fall in love (I may be jumping to conclusions there), but their tryst is cut short when Alexander must take Sangeeta home. Since most of this installment settles on these two’s blossoming forbidden romance, some of the primary characters of the story, like Bombaby’s fiancée, make little more than cameo appearances. Assuming these characters don’t have much substance beyond their stereotypical role in the plot (i.e. the stubborn disapproving father, the snobbish unworthy groom-to-be), cameos are probably the way to go until the story reaches its inevitable climax.
Yesterday, I explored the critical role of art in independent comics, and how many indie creators supplement text for visual sequence to spotlight their illustration skills. In Mazzotta’s case, his style has the clout to carry a word-free sequence rather successfully. Bombaby is the first independent comic I’ve read in color, and the computerized tones establish a vibrant world that’s really easy for the eye to explore. Since India is not a common setting for American comics (at least not any comics I’ve read in the past twenty years), the artist’s wide, establishing shots are critical in creating the vibe of Sangeeta’s city, and he combines intricate line art with an expert balance of warm and cool hues to exude mood and character in an otherwise foreign city. Sure, Bombaby’s proportions were sometimes questionable, but since the issue was top-heavy in talent as well, I won’t complain.
This tale may take place in India, and the creator does lace certain scenes with Indian music lyrics, but the storytelling structure is pure western world. The illicit love and smoldering sexuality, the conflict of tradition versus contemporary individuality . . . it’s Romeo and Juliet in comic book form. To his credit, Mazzotta obviously has a bigger picture in play, a plot with long-term conditions and consequences, so I hope he maintained a faithful readership with his run. As for me, the international romance shtick isn’t my bag – even if this comic book came in one.