Backstage At The Culture Wars: Abortion Andy: Baby Steps

Posted by on October 20th, 2010 at 5:41 AM

Rob reviews Abortion Andy: Baby Steps, by G.P. Bonesteel.

GP Bonesteel’s Abortion Andy: Baby Steps is an outrageously vicious satire of the confluence of Christian Right politics and Madison Avenue strategy.  At the same time, it’s a character-based workplace comedy, only with an everyman hero that’s an aborted fetus that somehow came back to life.  As an employee of a PR firm specializing in providing scare-tactics testimonials, Andy understands the ridiculousness of his situation while slowly trying to put his own stamp as an individual on his tedious job.  It’s that tension that mutes the more outrageous gags in the comic (like a PSA about a masturbating monkey designed to discourage the practice in teens [but not, as one of the PR men noted, to discourage girls from swallowing]), making them seem like all in a day’s work.

Andy is a decidedly creepy-looking antagonist: a naked fetus with an umbilical cord that doubles as magical storage space.  All he wants is to update his anti-abortion spiel from a set of Grease references to Juno.  (Bonesteel includes caricatures of Michael Cera and Ellen Page on the front and back covers, recoiling in horror from the sheer spectacle of Andy.)  The meandering plot follows him through a couple of work days, as he tries in vain to convince his boss (dressed up as god to facilitate a “What if Jesus had been aborted?” piece) to update his song, messes with the frattish alpha-male advertising executive and hangs out with his friends: a “Give Straight A Chance” spokesman who’s gay as Christmas and a perpetually stoned (and possibly autistic) anti-drugs spokesman.

It’s obvious where Bonesteel’s political sympathies lie as he piles on the sheer hypocrisy and ignorance of the movement.  He does so in a way that’s entirely sympathetic to the spokesmen for the cause, who are damaged people simply trying to do a job; a job some of them even believe in.  The makes the satire all the more effective and allows Bonesteel to hammer home his points with great force while still making the reader laugh.  Creating a set of sympathetic (if bizarre) characters allow Bonesteel to mix in pathos with his satire and dirty jokes, further strengthening the overall narrative.

Where Bonesteel falls short is as a draftsman.  While the art is certainly serviceable, there are any number of gags and character moments that would have worked better if they were drawn better.  I get the sense that Bonesteel’s reach exceeded his grasp on more than one occasion in this comic.  His character work in particular was erratic, especially in terms of the way he expressed body language and characters in relation to one another.  While his sense of design was frequently clever, his characters didn’t hang in the spaces he created with much solidity.  This is unfortunate for a comic largely dependent on character reaction and reader reaction to distinctive characters.  Bonesteel’s sense of comic timing is impeccable and goes for the throat in an entertainingly ruthless manner; hopefully, he will find a way to develop a rendering style that is commensurate with his skills that will still allow him to express everything he wishes to explore.

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2 Responses to “Backstage At The Culture Wars: Abortion Andy: Baby Steps

  1. […] Abortion Andy: Summer Lovin’ and Ninja Girl.  Abortion Andy: Baby Steps was recently reviewed by Rob Clough at The Comics […]

  2. […] recently been reviewed by Rob Clough over at The Comics Journal. The first review is for the latest Abortion Andy and the second review is for the Tales From San Papel anthology that I contributed to back at the […]