In the aftermath of last spring’s Gear job, yours truly found himself feeling a profound need to Accentuate the Affirmative. Hence this column of short blurbs: a consideration of several size-friendly sightings (or sounds) from the world of pop culture.
After putting their best-known title on hiatus for several years, the Hernandez Brothers recently started a second run of their critically acclaimed Love and Rockets comic book. As a lover of comics, I can’t help rejoicing: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are both gifted when it comes to rendering convincing plus-sized heroines (too many comic artists are much more limited in their repertoire of body types), and Jaime’s L & R mainstay, Maggie, is one of the best-realized heroines in modern comics. Plumply attractive, a whirlpool of contradictory emotions, she’s one of those characters who’d be maddening to know in real life. But I’d follow her anywhere in a comic book.
The new Love and Rockets series has seen two issues to date, and for the purposes of this column, Jaime’s “Maggie” storyline is the one to read. (Which is not to take away from the charm of Gilbert’s work - nor the more serious fare of less-prolific brother Mario.) Buy the series for Jaime’s clean and sexy Maggie art, but be sure to stay for the rest of the show.
In America, the most recent network teevee season has ended, and I couldn’t let it pass without singing the praises of Leslie Boone, the charming voluptuous actress currently appearing in a supporting role on the critically successful new series, Ed. Ms. Boone - who first hit regular network TV in the largely lamentable plus-sized comedy Babes - plays Molly Hudson (Maggie, Molly: coincidence or something deeper?), best friend to Carol Vessey, the series’ female romantic lead. (It sez something for the state of American network television that a plus-size actress as gorgeous as Miz Boone is still stuck in best friend roles, while her counterpart would get the lead role in a comic book like Love and Rockets.) Despite the limitations of her role, Molly has quickly become one of the most appealing features on the show: her romance with a nerdy math teacher over the first season has been more intriguing than the off-again/off-again romance between the show’s title hero and Molly’s friend Carol.
As long as we’re mentioning size-positive artifacts that get me grinning, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Josh Max’s Outfit and their CD Make It Snappy (Swipecat). A New York act that bills itself as “loungeabilly,” the Outfit specializes in both rockabilly and Latin-flavored tunes (even does a nifty remake of “Cuban Pete,” which many of you’ll recall from Jim Carrey’s Mask turn). Its male lead and onetime Dimensions contribber, Josh Max, writes most of the songs, but his buxom distaff partner Julie James is the band’s not-so-secret weapon. Simply put, the gal’s got a bono vox; I’m bettin’ she blows the tablecloth off every table in the joint.
Snappy is full of strong jumping jivery and even more lyrically thoughtful mid-tempo fare, but the cut that gets the FAs hollering is its “CD bonus track”: “I Like A Whole Lotta Woman.” Performed live for a radio station (the rest of the disc is studio work), the rockabilly rave-up features Josh singing the praises of a lady “who’s got lots to hold.” A great song that I hope the band is able to re-record in studio session some day: me, I’m waiting for the day when one of those neuvo retro big label bands (the Swing Cats, maybe?) covers it.
Sometimes the positive can pop up in an unexpected place. Recently, a Dimensions On-line habitué sent me some sheet music from 1949, music to the infamous Arthur Godfrey novelty hit, “Too Fat Polka.” Like most Americans, I’ve experienced this particular musical excrescence at more than one wedding reception, and lemme assure it can be a painful experience. But the cover to this egregious bit of jaunty fat-bashing is something else again: a cartoon image of a blissful fat femme dancing while a protesting male backs away. The guy in the picture looks like a twerp; the woman looks like she doesn’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks.
I look at this graphic, and the offensiveness of the original song’s sentiments dissipates. To hell with Arthur Godfrey - and his contemporary yahoo equivalents, say I. I wanna dance with the fat woman in the polka dots!
(Love and Rockets can be found at your local comic book store or at http://www.fantagraphics.com. The Maggie panel is copyright 2001 by Jaime Hernandez. Make It Snappy can be purchased through http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/joshmax. Tell ‘em both this column sent ya!)