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Pulp is a Strong Entry from the Businesses Best

I recently read Pulp, from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and had some thoughts about their latest collaboration.

1. Bless Ed Brubaker, with Pulp, he really did try to write a story about cowboys for Sean Phillips, but Brubaker keeps returning to crime all the same. At this point, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are a known quantity, as they deliver inarguably (well, that's a little far, I'm sure there's a Stray Bullets fan in the comments section), so arguably, best US/UK crime comics.

Pulp is a Strong Entry from the Businesses Best
cover by Sean Phillips

2. Pulp, for once, isn't a Criminal branded story, and the team uses the space to deliver a story about an aging pulp writer and his melancholy adventures in 1939 New York. It's the last days of this particular writer as well as possibly the last days of his creation. The ending, no spoilers, also feels like an ending to a western. You could probably argue Pulp takes the idea of a writer in the 30s as a cowboy and runs with it.

3. Pulp's a little light on women, or the major women that do exist don't do much to advance the story. One's literally a, well, read it and see. Don't clip this to go "Bleeding Cool Says Ed Brubaker's Sexist," but yeah, if you look at Pulp through that lens, you're going to notice that lack pretty immediately. My guess is Ed Brubaker would say, "It's 1939, and it's a period piece. The period involved rampant sexism, and women often stayed at home due to the aforementioned sexism. How many female commissioning editors were there in pulps?" Again, not disqualifying, but something that poked at me while the team's great story turned over in my head.

Pulp is a Strong Entry from the Businesses Best
Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips/Jacob Phillips

4. Technically, Sean Phillips and colorist Jacob Phillips go from strength to strength. Jacob Phillips' colors during the ostensibly western portion of the story are light and almost watercolor, whereas the 1939 portion he colors more traditionally. Pulp is the third short hardcover collection (album, the Europeans would say) from the prodigious team, and while it's not their best of the three, Pulp remains a multi-read doozy.

What do you think? Can the Criminal team be beaten? If so, by who? Let me know in the comments.

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James HepplewhiteAbout James Hepplewhite

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