This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
15 Minutes: Kim Kardashian
(Marc Shapiro, Noval Hernawan)
What is the lesson we can draw from the fact that 15 Minutes: Kim Kardashian is even a thing? I mean, there must be some larger purpose to its existence, right? A product is released to fill a need or a desire. Just what is the thing behind this thing?
Perhaps it points to the idea that when we idolize the vainest among us we have shifted our priorities as a functioning society. Perhaps it serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us that when someone loves themselves too much it complicates their ability to love another. Maybe it forces us to come to terms with the fact that, yes, for women, being rich, attractive, and knowing how to fuck is indeed an entry into international stardom. Does acknowledging this make a person sound like a sexist or a realist? Does a comic like 15 Minutes: Kim Kardashian spur this larger debate?
Or is this really a crappy comic about some insipid woman who has been foisted into our collective consciousness by the sheer power of a bored media, neither the comic nor the woman worth a passing glance as we gird ourselves to make more important decisions affecting our lives, like whether it will be using credit or debit to pay for our Ho-Hos and six pack of Bud?
What 15 Minutes: Kim Kardashian has done, really, is confuse the hell out of me. As much as there is a hollow idolization of vapidity in Marc Shapiro’s writing, there is also a more subtle level of snark that rides its underbelly. It is as if he took this writing gig with one hand on his wallet and the other punching us in the nose. This comic is as much a "Don’t you wish you could be?" as it is a "Come at me, bro." There is, perhaps, a challenge inherent in this comic, I just can’t decipher either what is at stake or what is the reward.
Adding to the conundrum is Noval Hernawan’s art. This is a comic about a woman who is universally desired partly for her physical beauty. In this book, though, there is panel after panel of her looking haggard and hideous, whored out and wan. Is this by intention in order to promulgate the larger themes that Shapiro is pursuing, or is this just a result of the limited talent of a hack artist working cheap on a disposable product, as much a piece of effluvium as Kim Kardashian herself?
15 Minutes: Kim Kardashian may just be one of the most important comics to hit the racks in decades, a penetrating indictment of celebrity culture and American values, or it may just be a complete piece of crap. I have no idea.
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