buckoErika Moen is a bold voice among women cartoonists—and among cartoonists period. Her webcomic, DAR, illuminated her experiences of being twenty-something, coming out as queer, loving ladies, marrying a dude, and how she discovered herself as a person and an artist through these experiences. It was honest and bold, but also light-hearted and often laugh out loud funny. Currently she’s hard at work at Oh Joy, Sex Toy, a sex toy review comic that somehow manages to be gentle enough to interest even the most sex-toy averse. It’s not sleazy or pornographic, it’s just unapologetically sex-positive. Bucko was a project that Erika took on between the two, a collaborative webcomic with Jeff Parker writing and Moen as illustrator.

Parker, though perhaps less familiar to the zealous reader of feminist-y webcomics, has a fine pedigree as well. He’s written extensively for both DC and Marvel comic book franchises, including Aquaman, The Avengers, and the X-Men. With their powers combined, Bucko promises to be a lot of fun from a wealth of talent.

As it turns out, that prediction is correct: Bucko is nothing short of a wild ride through a particular Portland scene full of bike nerds, grouchy but rocking lesbians, lactating-for-pay Suicide Girls, absinthe purveyors, Juggalos (and Juggalettes), and layabouts like the titular dude.

Bucko starts out as a whodunnit. Rich, renamed Bucko by the girl he falls for early on in the story, stumbles over a dead body when he’s rushing to the bathroom, hungover during a job interview. He’s worried, and rightfully so, that he’ll be accused of the murder. He’s quickly cleared of this heinous deed, but his relief is short-lived when he stumbles into a nearly identical situation later that day. So he takes off running. And from there the action begins. Or does it?

As a webcomic that develops page by page, there are a lot of twists, turns, diversions, wacky characters, and the initial plot/caper becomes almost incidental. There’s a lot of action, but it doesn’t add up to a fantastic overall story. That’s really all right, though. Moen’s joy for illustration and willingness to stretch her skills beyond autobiography and try new things is evident here and is truly enjoyable. I didn’t care much for the plot on its own, but the way Moen and Parker play off each other to create a wildly unpredictable silly romp made it a fun read.

Since it’s the physical publication of a webcomic, Parker and Moen also do a commentary in the margins of each page on inspiration, errors, cameo appearances, and other miscellany about their process together. It’s not necessary for the enjoyment of the comic, but it’s interesting to see how consciously a comic like this comes together. The extras at the end continue this trend with Moen showing the poses she drew from, the development of individual characters, and a few wacky backstories and epilogues.

In the end, Bucko is a lot of fun for a die-hard Moen fan, may offer new insight for Parker fans, and is definitely a great argument for Keeping Portland Weird. It’s well done, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and doesn’t add up to anything earth-shattering. But that’s okay—it reminds me that yes, sometimes comics, even for grownups, can be really fun.

by Jeff Parker
Art by Erika Moen
ISBN: 9781595829733
Dark Horse Originals, 2012

  • Emilia Packard

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Emilia has been reading graphic novels rabidly since her best friend handed her Craig Thompson’s Blankets over winter break during her sophomore year of college. From that day, her fate was sealed — at Grinnell College, she created, edited and drew strips for a student comics magazine called The Sequence. As an MLS Student at the University of Illinois, she spent way too much time filling up her backpack (and her roommate’s backpack) with the treasures of the Undergrad Library’s comics collection — never less than 40 books at a time. Just in the past few years, she’s worked at libraries and archives in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Indiana, and Austin, Texas and consumed their graphic novels collections with great gusto. She has been drawing her stick-figure avatar, Flippy-Do, since she was about 10 years old.

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