I don’t know where my fascination with circuses and freak shows comes from, but I am constantly seeking entertainment revolving around that subculture. So, after hearing the description of this comic, I knew it was something I’d be interested in. Unfortunately, the expectation and the execution were far from one another and I found myself wanting for more than they could deliver.
This is the story of Lula, a little girl with a beard and her giant pet monster, Chimichanga. In Wrinkle’s Traveling Circus, there are many interesting characters including the slightly-stronger-than-usual man and the grouchy clown, but they pale in comparison to a new addition that has found refuge from a manhunt in the circus. He is the man with the worst face ever, who hides behind long, oily hair. He is found by young Lula, who assures him there is a place for a man with his unique aesthetic, but he refuses to be a spectacle to be laughed at. This leads to his donning a costume to contribute to the circus, but is that enough to conceal his identity when the cops come around?
So, I’m going to start with what I liked. The monster Chimichanga is a very fantastic creature, who defies all logic in his magical belly button. Lula is cleaning him in this issue and pulls out a large tree stump, a bag of evil potatoes, and an elephant, among other strange things. He is a large green ape-like beast with blue hair and horns, and the character is a fun children’s monster that I can totally support, so long as he does not eat me. Chimichanga is just the kind of ridiculous character that makes a book like this fun. The other aspect of this comic I liked was the artwork by Stephanie Buscema.Many characters had a very cartoony quality that worked very well for this genre of comic. We never see the “worst face ever” but Lula’s reaction is fitting. The fish man is whimsical and the whole aesthetic is a creepy carnival that I hate to love.
Now for the bad. This section is entitled “Lula” because my biggest problem is the main character. I’ll start with the character design, which is the worst in the book to be honest. You’d think that a little girl would be adorable, even with a long (though stylish) black beard, but the art team decided to give her empty eye sockets for some strange reason. If all the characters shared this trait, it could be chalked up to some metaphor or something, but no. She’s the only black-eyed character other than a couple of animals and background extras. Maybe this is an Aftershock reference? Not only that, but her chubbiness is highlighted by prominent knee folds and her outfit consists of a dress that barely reaches her hips and purposely exposed polka dot panties. Part of me thinks she’s a freak show version of Little LuLu, but even that’s pushing it. Not only that, but she is incredibly obnoxious. The issue starts with her on her way to clean up/out Chimichanga singing to every carnival worker she passes. They are the sing-song ramblings of girl not even thinking about what she’s saying. Her “morning song” includes the following gem of a lyric:
So, to summarize, I liked this story by Eric Powell overall, with its unusual circus folk and creepy fun artwork, but Lula was just too much to handle. Had she been cuter in some way or more likeable, this would’ve been a great comic. Chimichanga was a highlight for me, despite being just a repulsive as everything else. If Lula climbed into his belly and just stayed there indefinitely, I’d be happy.
Good, 3 out of 5 Foul Belly Potatoes
Writer: Eric Powell
Artist: Stephanie Buscema
Cover Artist: Stephanie Buscema
Chimichanga: Sorrow of the World’s Worst Face #1 hits shelves October 12th