Wally Gropius

By Tim Hensley (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-355-2 (HB)

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Because it’s the Thoughts That Count… 9/10

Comics are the most subversive means of communication yet devised. If you’re a creator at the top of your game with no editorial restrictions you can depict and say one thing, in a manner that even the primmest censor would approve of and adore, whilst surreptitiously advocating the most unsavoury, improper and civilisation-threatening dogma. In comics there are no “tells” to give the game away and the manner in which an author writes and draws can actually enhance the propaganda or outright lies…

Have you met Tim Hensley?

A gifted musician, cartoonist and second-generation comics fan, Hensley’s graphic narrative work began popping up all over the alternative scene following his minicomics series Ticket Stub (9 issues published between 2000 and 2006). He subsequently appeared in such magazines as Kramer’s Ergot, Smoke Signal, Dirty Stories, The Believer, Comic Art, Duplex Planet Illustrated, special editions of The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics’ sublime anthology Mome from where the intensely sly, brash, revolutionary and mind-bendingly beguiling Wally Gropius emerged to challenge our every precept of Capitalist culture. This book collects all those Mome moments and also includes – at no extra charge – new and revised material.

Available digitally and as a colossal 64-page 260 x 320 mm hardback potently reminiscent of the earliest English-language Tintin albums, the compilation is illustrated in a starkly jolly, primary-coloured pastiche of Baby-Boomer kids comics – and not just the obvious and overt Richie Rich or Archie Andrews trappings, but with a tip of the pen to lost classics of a once ubiquitous, now nearly-forgotten 1960s graphic style ranging from Mort (Spider, Beetle Bailey) Walker, Irving Tripp and John Stanley to the animated creations of Jay Ward and all those unnamed geniuses who drew such Dell/Gold Key classics as The Little Monsters and Thirteen Going on Eighteen.

Wally Gropius is barbed and edgy teen satire. The wealthiest teenager on Earth and scion of a petrochemical dynasty, Wally can have anything he wants. He sings in his band The Dropouts and doesn’t have a care in the world – until his father orders him to marry “the saddest girl on Earth.” With every girl in range tearfully throwing herself at him, Wally suddenly notices the stand-offish and highly hard-to-get Jillian Banks

Wally Gropius is a devastating, vicious and subversive cartoon assault on the modern bastions of Commercialism, Celebrity, and Casual Power. Wally tries everything money can buy to win Jillian, but there’s something he’s blithely unaware of…

A madcap, screwball and incredibly surreal comedy with many hidden and time-delayed laugh-traps cunningly concealed for later effect by a keen observer with a disturbingly-honed intellect and a laudable absence of taste, this a subversive treasure no thinking being should miss – especially at this time of year. Take note: Money isn’t Everything and Subtext über Alles

Wally Gropius is Even Cleverer Than It Thinks It Is. Invest in it and enjoy a thoroughly mature modern masterclass in mercantile mockery and morbidly Infantile Analysis.
© 2010 Tim Hensley. All rights reserved.