Stumptown by Greg Rucka
Art: Matthew Southworth
There are no spoilers in this review.
I loved Stumptown from beginning to end. I was absorbed into Dex’s world the moment I started to read it. The words and the art were just perfect. My only major disappointment was that the hardcover book only contained four issues, and that Rucka and Southworth had not created more in this world for me to devour.
But this made me think of who would buy this hardcover? Who’s it made for? It’s a little on the spendy side and doesn’t contain a very long story. Sure the quality of the book is amazing from the thick paper stock to the binding to the extras. Clearly, as a fan of Rucka’s writing and a comic book geek who appreciates a finely put together trade, this book’s made for me.
Yes, finally someone made something for me. I love it. It even smells nice. (Oh, yes, I’m one of those bibliophiles.)
But at the same time, I also want to convince others to pick this up, but could I convince them to do so? Is my recommendation strong enough? Will they be disappointed and raving for more when they get to the end or it, or wish they would’ve waited for a cheaper format?
Okay, let’s talk about the story itself. Dexedrine “Dex” Parios is a private investigator with a gambling problem and a disabled little brother Ansel to take care of. She is the quintessential female character created by Rucka. As if he distilled everything he put into Carrie, Renee, Kate, Tara, etc., and put it into Dex. (Which is just another reason I want more of this world.)
Dex is hired to track down Charlotte, the granddaughter of a woman that she owes money to. And, of course, like any good mystery, Charlotte’s disappearance — was she kidnapped? did she run away? who’s she with? is she dead? — is more than it appears. Of course, Dex is hot on the trail, no matter how many times she literally gets beat down.
In addition to the complete love of the p.i., Stumptown is also a love song to Portland. To the nastier bits, the bits with the working people. The parts that we don’t see on Portlandia. If you were to ask me to describe Portland with media, I’d hand you this book and also make you watch Portlandia. Of course, you’d just be more confused.
Stumptown also captures the blue collar nature of Oregon in general. (I was born and raised there.) There’s an essential Oregonian-ness to the story. Even Rucka’s criminals get their hands dirty because of their work ethic. And, of course, Dex never hesitates to get down in the dirt. Southworth’s muted color palette also works brilliantly to express this.
I really hope that Rucka and Southworth continue Stumptown, and you should pick up a copy for yourself.