Belly Button Comix

    (Fantagraphics, 2004)
™ and © 2004 Sophie

If all of this comic’s unattractive characters and sexual overtones seem evocative of underground comix legend Robert Crumb, that just might be because the comic’s creator Sophie is none other than Sophie Crumb, Robert’s own daughter. The similarities are obvious, but they are no more significant than those seen in the work of any other creator influenced by Crumb. And there are differences aplenty.

For one, Sophie doesn’t seem to share Dad’s obsession with women with large backsides. Which is a good thing, on many levels. No, instead she contents herself with sharing both the major and the mundane frustrations of a young adult’s life in Paris, and on this level she adequately succeeds. This seemingly semi-autobiographical series of sketches are not as mundane as say, a Harvey Pekar story, but the cast of characters and their situations don’t carry quite the same depth as displayed in books like Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve. Like Crumb’s world, though, it’s an ugly, ugly place. There’s no beauty to be found, either in the people or the places, and this lack of glamour only serves to heighten the base humdrum of Sophie’s own world.

Despite its forgivable shortcomings, Sophie’s first professional work shows plenty of promise. Fans of Crumb will want to see just how far the apple fell from the tree, and those who enjoy slice–of–life type comics will probably find this entertaining enough.

— Jim Johnson

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