October 12, 2011

Cheap Thrills - KICKASS GIRL #1

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

October 8, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
Published by: Neko Press
Written by: Billy Martinez
Art by: Billy Martinez


August, 2003 in France, the father of two teenage French tennis players is arrested for drugging the boy’s opponents so his boys would win their games. Later in the month, Pete Sampras announces his retirement. Strange coincidence?

There is a tremendous heat wave in Europe during August, 2003, and Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to pray for rain. During the same month, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for Governor of California. Strange coincidence?

There is a major power outage in the northeast of the USA and Beyonce’ wins and MTV Music Video Award for Crazy in Love in August, 2003. Strange coincidence?

Ween releases the album Quebec in August, 2003, the same month Hilary Duff releases Metamorphosis. Gigli opens in theaters and Gregory Hines, Wesley Willis, and Charles Bronson all die. What was going on in August of 2003?

I did some research and I figured it out. August, 2003 is when Neko Press released Kickass Girl #1, and that explains everything.

At the time, Neko Press, based out of La Mesa, CA, was the baby of artist Billy Martinez. Martinez has worked in comics since 1996. He is still going. I have never heard of him.

Billy thought up the concept for Kickass Girl in 1998, but wasn’t able to get a script together until 2003. He claims in the last page of the book that "this book is about me… this book may be about you." If this is true, I am kinda scared because this book is weird, off-putting, violent, and wrong on so many levels. If this is about me, then by golly I need some serious therapy.

Let me explain why.

Kickass Girl #1 opens with this strange page.

There’s this girl, Katrina, and she’s kinda Manga, she’s kinda street, she’s kinda all anorexic big-bottomed weirdly proportioned to the point where it is unnerving to look at her, and she’s got huge feet. All of this, and she’s in a cemetery saying goodbye to someone. It’s creepy.

Is it just me? It’s creepy, right?

Anyway, she starts having this reverie, this dream, this replaying of her childhood, and it’s brutal. I mean, it’s really fucking brutal.

But the art is so, I don’t know, cute or something. What is happening is horrific. This is child abuse at some of its worse, and yet the abuser, thanks to Martinez’s art, is all kinda Saturday Morning Cartoon Fun-Time. The juxtaposition freaks me out.

So, Daddy starts wailing on this poor girl while he tells her to stop "fucking crying " but the art makes it all cuddly-wuddly (yes, that’s right, I said cuddly-wuddly – deal with it).

Then mom steps in to complete the dysfunctional family dance:

I mean, really? Am I alone here? Does anyone else find this really disturbing?

Katrina continues to remember her childhood. Highlights of this include both her finding her mother after she has blown out her brains (thankfully off stage as I do not know what I would have done with cuddly-wuddly brain splatter), and her own experience in High School.

In High School Katrina apparently was the target of sexual harassment by some groovers with facial hair and eyebrow piercings. Finally, though, these boys push her too far.

After their comment about her mother, Katrina snaps and gets these sort of super-powers which enable her to do some serious ass-kicking. Hence the title of the book, I suppose.

Not only does she knock the living crap out of skull sweater boy (to the point where his head has cracked the metal of one of the lockers), but then she grabs Goatee by his short and curlies.

And it’s all so damn cute!

But it’s not. It’s horrible. This is some really nasty shit going down.

This is really freaking me out, and NOT in a good way.

It gets worse. I’m sorry, but it really does.

Katrina goes home at some point and has another run-in with dear old Dad. He accuses her of being a "whore" for staying out past midnight. Newly empowered, though, Katrina decides to finally stand up for herself.

Her father is going to punch her in the face. And it’s so fucking cute! I mean, just look at him. Even his fist has that cute little knuckle swirl that makes me want to go pet bunnies and eat cotton candy.

But it’s a father punching his daughter in the face! Why is that cute? What is happening to me?


I can do this. I can make it though.


Katrina has these super powers though, and she turns the tables on Dad.

Awwww… just look at his face as his daughter almost takes off his head with a left uppercut – SO CUTE! And just look at that determined little look on her delightful little countance as she curb-stomps her father into unconsciousness. I just love this comic.

No. Wait. I hate this comic. I hate what is happening.

What is going on?????

Katrina doesn’t seem to know either. How has she become so strong? How has she learned to fight back?

The answer, of course, is simple:

God has plans for her and has sent her a topless angel with bangs to watch over her.

I mean, who didn’t see THAT coming?

What the fuck?

Katrina doesn’t believe the angel for a minute. She thinks she is losing her mind. After all, she did just beat her own father into a pulp with her bare hands and then has visions of an angel with Michael Jackson-like facial features and very firm breasts telling her that she has a higher purpose and that everything, including her father beating her all her life and her mother shooting herself, was all part of God’s plan.

Katrina reacts rather rationally to this, though:

The angel proceeds to touch Katrina’s forehead with her cute little E.T. looking finger, which sends Katrina into a world of visions. Of course, this is all happening in a flashback, so it is sort of like a vision within a vision, which only fucks me up even more.

But wait until you see her vision.

It’s now official. My brain has become the consistency of room temperature vanilla pudding.

What is going on now? She’s having a vision of fighting really cute Manga Sleestaks? Why? Where? How? HELP!

The visions continue and she sees herself on a street somewhere in among a crowd of people. She notices that one of the men in the crowd is not really a man at all. He’s a Skrull! No, wait, he’s a Manga Sleestak! Upon realizing this, Katrina toasts his ass (her words, not mine) with a handgun.

Then the next page brings us this:

Now we are somewhere in California. Is this still part of the vision? Is it still part of the flashback?

Doctor, I need some temporal reference, stat!

Aw fuck it, at this point I am so resigned to never understanding what is happening that it doesn’t even matter anymore. I’m just going to roll with everything that happens from here on out.

So, she’s in California, on a rooftop, waiting for the topless angel with bangs. Then the door to the roof opens and:



No, no, no, no, NO.

It’s a talking skeleton. It’s making jokes. It’s all cute and stuff.

Please, mommy. Make it stop.

The skeleton’s name is Jethro, but he wants to be called Dave, as in "Dave’s not here now," because he is a fan of Cheech and Chong. Dave comes with a warning.

Oh, Katrina – you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth.

And that’s it. Kickass Girl #1 ends with the main character asking, "What the fuck?"

Of course she does. With this comic, how else would you end it?

If the purpose of this comic was to throw its readers for a hard loop, then it is an artistic triumph.

After reading this book, I honestly feel like I have just endured a three week acid fueled meringue contest in a bathysphere at the bottom of the sea and my partner was an inflatable effigy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What did I ever do to Billy Martinez to make him want to do that to me?

It’s just downright cruel.

But you know what, Billy? I think I kinda liked it. I don’t know, I hated the art, the story was brutal and confusing and I felt actual physical pain with each page I turned, but something about Kickass Girl #1 kind of left me wanting some more, especially for only 50 cents.

You were right, Billy, what you said at the beginning of the column. Maybe this comic is about me.

God. I really need some therapy.

See you next week.

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