You’re the Center of Attention by Gina Wynbrandt (Mini Kus! #112)

I was thinking of opening this review with a story about my signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth at San Diego Comic Con when my first “big” book came out in 2018 and what that experience was like, because that’s sort of the point, innit? In the end, we’re all whores for fame to some degree. Sure, I’d tabled at smaller regional shows before, had been to SDCC as a member of the “comics press,” and had interviewed or hobnobbed with big names, but there’s nothing like seeing your name in lights at the big dance! There’s nothing like, well, when You’re the Center of Attention. This is what Gina wrestles with here, in full self-effacing glory; it’s part earnest confessional, and part tongue-in-cheek satire. I’m not positive how the color was applied, but it has an ink wash effect, contrasting between mostly horned-up pinks and calm blues, which capture the contention between ego and humility incredibly well. I love her art style, from the wispy details of the hair, to the expressions of the characters ranging from genuine elated joy, to the sinister smiles and eye-bulges of the faux game show host who looks like he was modeled after Willem Dafoe. The sickly reality TV show is a series of progressively humiliating challenges, from judging Gina’s abilities, to critiquing her physically, to digging up her personal history, and mocking her prospects in the industry. I assume these challenges are all allegories for the types of demoralizing hoops you need to jump through with various publishers, and the ridiculous gauntlet that must be run in the comic book industry, the minor miracle it is to get any book published, ever (spoken as someone who has self-published, done work for major print publishers, digital online publishers, etc. – I even documented my ludicrous experiences pitching. See! It really is a sickness, I can’t help but promote my own work, even in the process of being a hype man for someone else’s work!). Gina’s inner yearn for stardom is maybe some type of revenge quest seeking external validation, psychologically driving her to show up all the people who mocked or made fun of how stellar her trajectory always was. She imagines being on the cover of magazines, corporate sponsorships, multimedia prospects, being desired by men who want her, and women who want to BE her. One of the most clever bits is the little ant character, this diminutive in stature little guy – literally a bug! – who is her genuine fan. He represents the small chorus of loyal people actually impressed with her, legitimately calling her “charming, cute, smart, funny, and amazing!” It’s a testament to creators that if you put out the best possible work you’re capable of producing at that moment in your career, work you believe in, that the “ants” will find you, your audience will come, you’ll develop a small band of “groupies that worship you!” I won’t spoil the last page, because the excess of what’s depicted proves the point. This is a really great book by a creator whose star continues to rise, even as she reflexively questions her own quest for stardom.


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