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Perverso!
By Rich Tommaso
Published by Alternative Comics; $4.95 USD

Balancing a style that seems half-inspired by Dan Clowes and half-inspired by Seth, cartoonist Rich Tommaso gives us what must have been sold as "Clyde Fans meets Caricature -- with porn!"

The lead character is a porn photographer (instead of a carnival caricaturist) who finds himself involved with a young woman who appears to be -- but may or may not actually be -- a pre-teen. He is at first revulsed by the idea of photographing her, but after his marriage collapses, he allows himself to be convinced by the argument that "This whole 'baby-doll' is a very hot new trend in the smut biz these days," and he agrees to shoot the pictures.

The story seems as inspired by the true-life story of Traci Lords as much as by Clyde Fans and Caricature, but it primarily seems to exist not to comment on the cultural exploitation of young women, or the ingenuity of one young woman who nearly destroyed the porn industry by manipulation and deception -- no, Tommaso seems primarily concerned with utilizing artcomix stylizations to depict what would be called "wet lasagna noodles" if this were Oni Press's No Dead Time.

Despite an awkward cover and an unpleasant, seemingly rushed and overly convenient ending, I found Perverso a better and more interesting comic than Tommaso's previous work, 8 Ghosts, but that's damning with faint praise. I mentioned at the start that the book seems half-inspired by Seth and half-inspired by Dan Clowes, but in the end Perverso mostly seems, well, half-inspired. Tommaso clearly has an aptitude for cartooning, but has yet to demonstrate to me that he has anything significant to say, or has discovered his own voice to say it in. Grade: 3/5

-- Alan David Doane



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