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Raisin Pie #4

Raisin Pie #4

This is the first issue of Raisin Pie I’ve ever read. In fact, I’m not sure I had even heard of this comic until the cover caught my eye a couple weeks ago, which indicates how far out of the indie comic loop I am these days. It’s a split-book by married couple Ariel Bordeaux and Rick Altergott, two of the medium’s greats.

I haven’t kept up with Ariel’s work since her classic No Love Lost graphic novella. That was a great book about romantic dysfunction among the indie music crowd. But her work, both in storytelling and art, has really evolved since then. For Raisin Pie, she’s developing an on-going mystery about the burning down of a public library. The main suspect is a 73-year-old anti-pornography religious nut. The whole town is against her, except for the head librarian.

Even though this was my first issue of the comic, I wasn’t sure if this tale was part of a continuing story or if it was just a one-off. There’s enough in this issue that it tells pretty much a complete, satisfying story between the “Pentecostal pyro” getting arrested and telling her bizarre story, plus a subplot involving the budding romance between a private detective and the librarian.

Ariel also contributes the four-page first chapter to “The Wrong Love,” which mines the same territory as No Love Lost, except instead of music nerds this is just about regular nerds. The characters and situations seem more mature than Ariel’s previous work, mainly because the artwork isn’t in the same juvenile style. While I loved that old down-‘n’-dirty, punk style, I really dig just as much this new cleaner, less detailed, more realistic look Ariel is currently working in.

Rick’s story, on the other hand, is obviously part of a complex, continuing saga set somewhere in the world of his major character, Doofus. The bicycle-seat smelling Doofus only appears in one panel–mundanely watching TV of all things–while the rest of the comic mostly revolves around a curvy teenage chick who is mixed up with the wrong crowd. There’s also some sort of revenge plot centering on a drug felon who tries to poison the cop who sent him up the river. Somehow these two story threads are tied together, but it’s hard to say how without having read the previous installments. It’s a fun read by itself and it does encourage me to seek out Raisin Pie‘s back issues.

Buy this comic from Fantagraphics!