June 15, 2014

"It's just a job. It's not who I am."
Ethan Rilly
AdHouse Books, 2012
40 pages, B&W, floppy

We sometimes forget that reading a comic book is more than just a visual experience.
The first thing you notice about Pope Hats #3 is its paper stock, the cover is sturdy and has a weight that feels different than other comics (at least those that aren´t published by AdHouse). It's a sort of heftiness that will translate into the reading of the book.
Frances Scarland is a law clerk in a major law firm that is, slowly but surely, rising in its hierarchy. People like Frances, she's a workaholic and that's starting to take its toll. Her best friend and flat mate, Vickie is an actress that apparently has finally made it and is leaving Frances for a successful career in California.
There is something terribly soap opera-y about this comic, but in a good way. Forget about Ethan Rilly's clean cut art - informed by Hergé's ligne claire -, his ridiculously good storytelling and design sense, one of the strenghts of this book is its abbility to engage and imerse the reader in an unusual environment: the inner workings  of a law firm. Rilly's universe is coherently solid and what is left unsaid speaks more about each character than any dialogue.
Trust me, this is a strangely magnetic book that sucks you in and leaves you wanting more. If you don't believe me, why not go to Pope Hat's letters page (I love that it has a letter page!) and read what the anonimous reader (like Jeffrey Brown, Adrian Tomine, Seth and Tonči Zonjić) has to say.
By the way, a pope's hat is a mitre.

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