The Trouble with Girls

As previously discussed, comic shops have tons of comics just begging to be collected together and sold as a set, clearing out inventory and exposing fans to great comics they probably missed. Here's another that deserves the distinction. Title: The Trouble with Girls Genre: Humor, Action/Adventure Creators: Gerard Jones & Will Jacobs (writers); Tim Hamilton (artist) Issues: Vol.1 #1-14; Vol 2. #1-23; various specials Publisher(s): Malibu/Eternity/Comico

The Trouble with Girls is a “high concept” book: Lester Girls is a simple man with simple values who only wants to be left alone with a warm glass of milk and a good book. But instead, he is---unwittingly and repeatedly---thrust into a James Bond world of women, weapons, and world-dominators. Hopelessly and hilariously, Lester not only (amazingly) survives these ordeals, he (accidently) saves the day and (reluctantly) winds up in the arms of a luscious lady.

As such, everyone wants a piece of Lester: beautiful babes, slimy government agents, and secret organizations. And month after month, you worry that Les won’t ever find his peace and quiet, even as you secretly swell at every titillating tidbit and explosive consummation.

My caveat is that Girls really is one-trick. It’s formulaic and predictable. I'm not even sure that anyone should read multiple issues in a single sitting. I think it actually works best in smaller doses (say, an issue a month) to prevent the jokes from becoming limp. Like Benny Hill or Three’s Company, too much Girls may make you go blind. But for the occasional quickie, Girls really puts out.

What keeps Girls fresh is the tongue-in-cheek attitude of writers, Gerard and Jacobs, who have an obvious (and sincere) love for the character. Despite his overt square-ness, and seething masculinity, Les truly is loveable. He melds the nerdy bookworm loser with the alpha male hero (not unlike those other appealing characters, Spider-Man and Superman), cutting across the stereotypes, even as he tumbles head first into the clichés. Whether you love him for his softer side, or are attracted to his tough-as-nails environment, Les comes across time and again.

The Girls supporting cast are pretty one-dimensional, mainly serving as foils to Les. But a few of the players are worth mentioning. Maxi Scoops is the reporter on the Lester Girls beat, and despite his best efforts to avoid her, Les provides excellent coverage. Maxi is brash, unrelenting, and unforgiving; she wants it all, and enough is never enough. Her personality is a polar opposite to Les; so of course, romantic tension abounds. Les’ half brother (one of many) is Apache Dick, a randy and out of control half-Indian, whose primary motivation is finding a new way to trick Les into more adventure. Les’ young nephews, Willy and Jerry, are the bad-boy scamps whom Les continually tries to rehabilitate. What makes all these reprehensible characters work is Les’ sincere belief in their innate goodness. Although they go to great lengths to fool, cheat, and take advantage of Les, his naïveté almost redeems them.

As with the characters, most of the situations are completely contrived in order to set up (usually sexual) jokes, one-liners, or slapstick. Nevertheless, Gerard and Jacobs do manage to work in a social comment or two about race relations, the military industrial complex, Viet Nam, or any other smoldering issue from the late 80s/early 90s. Of course, you may be forgiven for missing them, because the next panel over has a half naked bodacious blond or a buxom bad guy just waiting to "take Les down." Likewise, Gerard and Jones drop just enough literary references (and double entendres) to allow the “sophisticated” reader to convince himself that it’s okay to read this smut. As such, Les’ adventures appeal to your id and your superego, letting you have your cheesecake and eat it too.

Tim Hamilton’s artwork is competent, if a bit bland. Frankly, Girls would be better serviced by a more imaginative and sexier artist, especially as Hamilton sometimes suffers from a lack of anatomical correctness. Although, to be fair, he probably had a better grasp on anatomy than many of his peers of that time period. In later issues, the various inkers manage to add some depth to the page.

For an independent title in the late Eighties and early Nineties, Girls was a real success story, spanking out around 50 issues, all told. There are Marvel and DC titles that can’t match that stamina today. Girls was also popular enough to warrant a few spin-off mini-series, but the ongoing secondary Girls title didn't get very far. The cancellation of Girls probably had as much to do with the ups and downs comics market as it did with Girls’ sagging premise. One can only do it so many times before it’s time to call it a night. As a title, Girls played the field of publishers. Volume 1 started as a black and white comic with Eternity Comics and ran about 17 issues. Vol 2 jumped over to Comico Comics for a few color issues and then (apparently as a result of Comico's bankruptcy) returned to black and white and Malibu/Eternity for the rest of it's performance. The color format certainly brought more boys to the yard, although it didn't add much to the artwork (probably due to a poor color process).  It didn't matter, as Lester and the gang had more than enough excitement that you didn't miss it.

Be a man and roll around with some Girls.