the last time i encountered Sherwin Tjia, at last year's IV Lounge series, he was reading from dozens of his fake missing-girls posters.With Pedigree Girls, the Montreal writer and comix guy again manages to be so shocking that it takes a while to realize he's pulling a post-Adbusters stunt that enhances reality, flips it around and then smacks you in the face.
The stars of Tjia's gags, two rich, white private-school girls, are expertly portrayed. We love to hate these snobby bitches. When it comes to gaining the upper hand in their never-ending popularity contest, everything's fair game. They've got way too much time on their hands and no moral backbone whatsoever.
In one strip, Girl 2 teases Girl 1 because her brother's selling nudie pictures of her. In another, Girl 1 tells Girl 2 to stop slicing her wrists because she'll look terrible in a sleeveless dress. Tjia's fascination with these women is creepy, but that's his point. Our fascination with these awful yet compelling girls signals serious cultural dysfunction.
His drawing technique is exaggeratedly simple -- panel after panel of the same drawing for the entire book. These girls are not individuals, they are representatives of 21st-century upper-class indolence.
Their names and the details of their lives change in order to fit Tjia's editorial whim. Above their heads float captions containing snippets of snarky conversations about life, other girls, sex, clothes, incest, rape, breast reduction surgery, bisexuality and their unhappy families.
This book is hilarious. It's also filled with raw, biting social criticism.
Pick up a copy if only to check out the weirdest comix you'll read all year and to discover the seductiveness of nihilism by way of an author with a sharp sense of humour.
PEDIGREE GIRLS by Sherwin Tjia (Insomniac), 137 pages, $19.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN