REVIEW: ‘Pulp’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pulp - But Why Tho?

PULP is an original graphic novel published by Image Comics. The award-winning creative team behind this wild western is Ed Brubaker writing with art by Sean Phillips and colors from Jacob Phillips. This story takes us back to the year 1939 New York and introduces us to the central focus of our story, a gentleman named Max Winters. An Aging outlaw bandit turned pulp writer who sprinkles in pieces of his past into the stories he turns into his ungrateful publisher. While Nazi influence is spreading through New York and the protagonist can never seem to catch a break, one theme prevails: our own mortality.

Brubaker has a way of making you care so deeply for his characters in such a short amount of time. We are right there with Max Winters as he struggles to pick himself up off the ground and trudge through rejection and hard times. Again, every time his chest tightens post-heart attack. Most importantly is how throughout the story, Brubaker writes his classic internal monologues which seem to become your own as you understand Max’s motives. Aside from Max’s trudge through rock bottom, the character becomes even more personal knowing that this story is a product of Brubaker’s own realization of his mortality after almost drowning. 

Once thought to be reformed, Max quickly realizes that old habits are hard to break and is not surprised when he sees the opportunity to use violence to solve his problems. Seeing as Brubaker and Sean Phillips are no strangers to altercations, the sparing violence used in this story is alarmingly impactful. The artwork in Pulp is classic Sean Phillips, but the flashbacks to Max’s outlaw days take this story to another level. There is incredible detail in the way Sean Phillips details life in the wild west, from the subtle locomotives in the background to the masked bandits committing robbery. The letters in Pulp are methodically drawn and elegant. There is a lot of dialogue and monologue on the pages but they hardly consume the real estate of the page and allow for the story to be told and shown famously.

Sean Phillips and his son Jacob Phillips give us a harmonious combination of gritty western art in PULP with earthy colors that separate Brubaker’s past and present tense writing style. When reminiscing on his outlaw days, Jacob Phillips blends warm and vibrant colors in the foreground with loud accents for the people in the frame. When focusing on older Max, the palette relaxes and allows for Sean Phillips to flesh out New York and its citizens. I would like to also mention the effects Jacob Phillips has added to the flashback sequences. Each panel flashback panel has a vintage effect as if the panels were photos left in the sun before being placed directly into this book.

Overall, with PULP, Brubaker & Phillips continue to be the household name for gritty noir stories and have somehow achieved the ability to reinvent themselves with a more melancholic story that focuses more on the turmoil within rather than just “Shoot ’em ups”. To secure the thing you believe in most, would you go against the grain and face down all the forces working against you? After reading this story, you may reconsider!

PULP is available now, wherever comics are sold.

PULP
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TL;DR

Overall, with PULP, Brubaker & Phillips continue to be the household name for gritty noir stories and have somehow achieved the ability to reinvent themselves with a more melancholic story that focuses more on the turmoil within rather than just “Shoot ’em ups”. To secure the thing you believe in most, would you go against the grain and face down all the forces working against you? After reading this story, you may reconsider!