My first “real” job out of college was working for a subcontractor in a major department store. I was one of two human resources drones, working mostly in getting people entered into an ancient system known as Lawson, collecting sales info, and processing forms. I also had to file things. A lot. For twelve bucks an hour, a wage I would later discover bordered on fraud.
One of the most mind-numbing parts of this job was the fact that because I might potentially work in the department store, the now defunct Filene’s, I had to go through the full retail training just like everybody else. And it was a nightmare. There is no retail job that will twist a human into a monster faster than a department store, something that was obvious just by the training.
That’s what makes Sina Grace’s Not My Bag so painfully funny: He nails, perfectly, how awful the job is, and what it does to you.
Not My Bag is really as much about Grace growing up and struggling with his own identity as an artist and a gay man as it is about working for the man, but he intertwines them well by showing how signing up for a simple retail job to pay off his overpriced car rapidly tumbles into a soul-sucking nightmare that costs him a few friendships, makes him question his own self-worth, and leaves him broke.
The writing style is detailed and conversational, at times almost more an illustrated book than a comic, but although the story isn’t a fantasy, the art, and the jokes and references, often are. Grace gets the crap kicked out of him by a woman in a Guy Fawkes mask, describes one woman he meets as having “Skrull mouth”, and offhandedly mentions his love of Batman. Grace already had demonstrated quite a range as an artist, but here he gets to have a lot of visual fun.
Ultimately it’s a darkly funny and very rich book that’s all too rare to find on the stands. If it’s in your shop, pick it up; it’s a lot of fun.
There were a lot of great comics this week, I thought: Minutemen, Cyber Force, Hawkeye, He-Man, BPRD 1948… all worth reading. Tell me your favorites this week and let’s talk some comics.