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Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag

Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009
By: Kelvin Green

Andy Winter
Declan Shalvey
Moonface Press
Tim Skinner is, as the comic's title suggests, a total scumbag, but one with a special ability--he can enter the fictional realms of his inherited comic book collection, a power which, since he is the aforementioned scumbag, Tim exploits to his advantage, and at the expense of others, whenever possible. This sets the stage for a hilarious and clever tale, part Garth Ennis*, part Grant Morrison.

As one might imagine, Skinner is an utterly unsympathetic protagonist, and all the bad stuff that happens to him, and there's a lot of it even for a one-shot, is really his own fault, and yet there remains something likeable about him, a wit and charm that comes through in the dialogue and suggests that just maybe Tim is not all bad. It's a triumph of scripting and one of which writer Andy Winter can be proud. Not everyone can turn such an irredeemable git into a compelling character.

Winter also brings along a bag of great ideas, exploiting the inherent self-referential opportunities of the concept with great success. My particular favorites were the glimpse of what's really under Judge Dredd's famously-immovable helmet, and the introduction of a group of (SPOILER) zombie Transformers (END SPOILER). This latter group is a nice sly dig at the increasingly desperate crossovers and events resorted to by modern comics companies, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't think the idea wasn't at least a tiny bit cool. Again and again, Winter gets this balance between taking the piss and playing it straight absolutely spot on. Only the ending is a bit of a damp squib, lacking any real punch after the fun and frolics earlier on.

Declan Shalvey's art is as impressive as I'd come to expect after his previous collaboration with Winter on Hero Killers. The storytelling is strong throughout, and there's a looser yet more confident feel to the linework than before. Given the general idea behind the title, it is perhaps a little disappointing that Shalvey doesn't stretch his creative muscles a bit more. There is a pitch-perfect Blankets spoof, and some classic superheroes are drawn in an appropriately Kirbyesque manner, but almost everything else is rendered in the artist's normal style, and it strikes me as a bit of a missed opportunity.

So while Tim Skinner doesn't succeed on every level, the creators do get it right most of the time, with good solid art, clever humor and a surprisingly compelling lead character. It's perhaps not as deep a satire as it could be, but the comic is never less than entertaining and that's good enough.

*Although there's joke at Ennis' expense in here which had me laughing louder than I have at a comic in years.



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