Spookgirl #3, July 2000, SLG Publishing
by Mike Macropoulos
Trixie McGillicutty is Spookgirl, an agent for a mysterious global organization collecting data on the paranormal.
Thanks to this concise synopsis from Spookgirl’s inside front cover, I now prefer the a series description over the standard “last issue” summary. The way I see it, if I can understand the primary characters and the overall concept, I should be able to pick up on any given installment’s circumstances fairly quickly. When the story requires a lengthy explanation, the writer reveals that he’s working less on an epic and more on an episode. I prefer long-range thinking. If comics weren’t meant to be something bigger than a single issue or story arc, they wouldn’t be numbered consecutively.
That said, this issue features a self-contained story that presents some stark contrast with the more classic comics I’ve read during this challenge. When I hunker down with an issue of Cheyenne Kid or Forbidden Worlds, I prepare myself for a long read. Those old writers were long winded, and sometimes I wonder if they frequently forgot that an artist had to try to squeeze pictures around all of that text. Contemporary indie comics are often one-man acts, with a single artist providing the story and the words, so the pictures usually work more interactively with the plot than usual. Heck, most publishers won’t even accept writers’ submissions, so the only way a storyteller can break into the business is to illustrate his own work. In these cases, words taper off to showcase the artwork, and mainstream writers have embraced this minimalist style with their writing, as well, whether they’ll admit it or not. The various eras of comics are undoubtedly hinged on this word/picture interplay.
Back to Spookgirl. In this issue, Spookgirl’s dog fetches a baby that summons a robot from space to cremate its alien soul. I think. Spookgirl engages the robot in a game of cat-and-mouse to protect the baby, which is later exposed as a robot itself that wants to be caught. Looking on, Spookgirl’s musings are baffling and, I assume, easier to understand in the context of earlier issues: “So that’s it. Duh. The Nipponese have long been dissatisfied with traditional cremation methods. The chi can be contaminated if not stored properly.” Oh, yeah. Duh. Silly me for not figuring that out. Even amidst the confusion, the tale ends poignantly, as the creature’s ashes “snow” on the city: “So now Neutron City is left with an empty two ton husk and a sky full of wet, flaky chi residue. I guess this is all supposed to be beautiful and tragic somehow. But it’s just kind of disgusting.” Typical teenaged response. Good characterization.
Macropoulos has an art style perfect for franchising. I see Spookgirl shirts and buttons and patches under glass at Hot Topic. He’s tapped into that adolescent angst meets the paranormal in the way that made the Emily brand so successful. Heck, I even really like the name Spookgirl. However, this book is six years old, and I haven’t heard of Spookgirl before this read, so maybe the opportunity never came up. I wonder if Macropoulos focused more on the reason I was drawn this issue in the first place: its concept. Spookgirl tells a good story. That’s all it needs to do.