Pussey! is a collection of strips from Eightball, published over five years, concerning a comic book artist named Dan Pussey.
It’s pronounced poo-say, so just remember that distinction.
A lot of the strip is Clowes examining the comic book industry and its fans. I don’t think there’s a single sympathetic character in the entire collection. In fact, Clowes makes a point to make the protagonist unsympathetic as time progresses. Until the finale, when it’s a tragedy comics are forgotten.
Clowes gets in a sadly hilarious analog of Stan Lee and uses him as the face of exploitative publishers. Like much of Pussey!, it’s funny, but only if you have some reference. Clowes misses making the character, Dr. Infinity, likable. Stan Lee is great at selling himself too, whereas Clowes lets the reader know exactly how awful Dr. Infinity’s going to get.
While all of Stan Lee’s return to comics ventures failed, here it succeeds. It turns into something like Image, with Pussey becoming Rob Liefeld. I had to think back to the nineties and the crazy speculative market and so on to get it all.
But Clowes also has a lot to say about his fellow indie creators—and bully to Gary Groth for publishing a comic featuring him as a twerp who makes the Hernandez Brothers do chores for him.
It’s a comic with nothing nice to say about its own medium.
Pussey! has a limited audience but is more even relevant now than when Clowes made it.
Writer, artist, and letterer, Daniel Clowes; Al Williamson; publisher, Fantagraphics Books.
So what in Hell’s Bell’s got you reading this? It’s been many years since I’ve seen these stories serialized, but Clowe’s sympathy for artists like Jack Kirby here really presents the “likable” character for me. It kind of reminds me when indie(?)creator Terry LaBan said in an interview that becoming a indie cartoonist is not a way to make a living. The biography of comic book artists for hire here suggests mainstream wasn’t the way to go either