A comic loving guy from Omaha, Nebraska. Also host of Dan Dashly Discusses, the internet's 2,368th most popular youtube comic review show.
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Public Relations is a tale of monsters, magic and marketing, with maybe a little bit of romance thrown in. While one of these themes doesn’t sound like the others, Public Relations attempts to bring the mundane and the magical together into one sleek, snarky and sexy package. While it isn’t always on the mark, it’s an intriguing effort and therefore worthy of a ComiConverse review.
Public Relations tells the tale of Dan Clover, mild mannered middle manager, who’s whole world changes because of a simple wedding invitation from his estranged father. Dan uses the opportunity to ask out the girl of his dreams, Threnody Dark, a graphic designer with sensibilities to match her name. The two set off for Sardonia, which is apparently as magical as it is obscure. While there Dan finds out that not only is his father a wealthy king but that he has a jealous brother to worry about, rebel knights to avoid and an incompetent chauffeur to put up with, not exactly the typical wedding worries. Luckily for him, Threnody is able to take it all in stride.
Public Relations takes no time to establish it’s rather unique tone, the initial scene being people happily popping bottles of champagne in a plane, which is then revealed to be a dragon that is falling out of the sky. Which is really Public Relations in a nutshell. A mix of the drabness of normal life with a light dusting of the incredibly fantastic.
Yet while the opening does an incredible job of establishing the tone and getting you interested in the book when the characters begin interacting it follows the dragons lead and crashes and burns. Dan’s office life and interactions with the other men in his office paint a very limited view of office life. The cliche sitcom style of writing where two “bros” make dick jokes and objectify women – while openly saying they are objectifying women (who just says that, really?) comes across incredibly heavy handed.
While these things do happen in offices, having that be the one and only thing we see of those guys is very out of place.
Dialogue and characterization unfortunately continue this trend as we get further introduced to Dan and Threnody, who adds manic pixie dream girl to the list of mythical beings in Sardonia. Dan never seems to have strong opinions about much in the world, except for Threnody, and isn’t one for action. When his mother warns him about the dangers of his father he says it will all be fine, when Chad the incompetent chauffeur refuses to pick them up he does next to nothing to solve the problem. All of that makes him incredibly hard to relate to or care about as a character. Blank canvases do no interesting characters make. Luckily for Dan, Threnody always has a snarky response or pop culture reference to put things right. I love a well written female character that takes charge and isn’t afraid to be their own person, but when you lower every other character to raise a character up, no one benefits, and that is certainly the case with Threnody.
Luckily, while Matthew Sturges struggles to make the characters grounded in reality he can write one liners with the best of them. From lines about dying with your pants wet to lines about dates, and how the fruit is frequently mistaken for the social event. This phrasing make up a fair amount of the dialogue and does manage to keep you engaged in what the characters are doing and saying.
However, plots and settings can’t be carried by one liners alone. While Dave Justus manages to create some beautiful castles, knights and dragons, very little is done with them. The magic seems to exist mainly so they can say it exists. Nothing is explained or elaborated upon, while an overly elaborate explanation of magic is too much to ask for from a five issue series, a first issue needs more explanation of of story’s world than “Sardonia is magic”. Perhaps that explanation, along with information about Dan’s family, will come later, but it simply leaves you wanting more from the first issue.
Being left wanting is a common theme for the reader in Public Relations. Situations, settings and characters that have a lot of potential that the creators refused to capitalize upon. The series is only five issues so if they intend on using their good idea they had better get on it. As it stands a series about a boring middle manager and his manic pixie dream girl just don’t cut it.
If you think Threnody manages to toe the line between delightfully quirky and Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) leave a comment below.
If she is a MPDG do you think it’s a bad thing, or even a poor representation of women in comics?
Cody Tomler is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_Dashly
While Public Relations has an interesting setting and a number of great one liners the main characters and plot fail to keep one’s interest and the book suffers as a consequence.