A PREDILECTION FOR TINA
A graphic novel that may not be horrific enough for my readers, yet will almost certainly be too freaky and aberrant for the mainstream. It’s a love story (of sorts) whose weirdness quotient is ensured by the fact that it contains an admiring introduction by none other than David Cronenberg--and Cronenbergian is an apt description for RIPPLE'S concentration on perverse sexuality and abnormal biology.
It features a frustrated artist, depicted as a skinny nerd with a most unsightly bald spot, who impulsively hires a slovenly fat woman to model for him. This gal is Tina, a trash talking slut the artist accurately dubs "ugly" and a "total slob." The guy falls madly in love with her nonetheless, he being obsessed with "elasticity of skin," something Tina has in abundance. Tina doesn't entirely return his affections, mocking his overwrought displays of emotion and "hoity-toity" vocabulary. He, however, won't be deterred, believing that when he and Tina have sex the two enter into “Ripple,” a state of hightened emotion that ties in with his elastic skin obsession.
As the relationship grows increasingly twisted, with violence and nightmares coming into play, and Tina turning out to be far different (and far younger) than she initially presented herself, it becomes clear this union isn't going to turn out well--and I don't think I'm giving anything anyway by revealing that indeed it doesn't. The conclusion, when it arrives, is satisfying in its way, and also very true to life.
As written and illustrated by Dave Cooper, this twisted little tale is compelling and consistently unpredictable. Its highlight is Tina, a fully-rounded character whose allure is actually enhanced by Cooper's detailed rendering of her flabby, pockmarked form. The funky R. Crumb-like pen-and-ink artwork is impressive in its way, rendered in black and white--or more accurately, blue and yellow--with well chosen splashes of red and a spot-on eye for the grotesque. There's also plenty of unflinching nudity and none-too-glamorous sex herein, so be forewarned: this is an adults-only love story that doesn't play nice.