Outlaw Efforts: By Natalie Jacobson and Joey Maltese, 116 pgs. By Bryan Static

Outlaw Efforts is a graphic novel written by Natalie Jacobson and drawn by Joey Maltese about the trials and tribulations of Maxi, a touring punk band’s driver. I say punk band, but the band is fronted by a fashion-conscious diva whose ambitions seem to be purely about money and controlling men. It makes one wonder, what does this woman want to do with a punk band? I refuse to believe that I’m misattributing the band’s genre. The book is blazoned with quotes from Agnostic Front and Nausea members, as well as in-story references to Crass being the last sacred thing to ever touch the planet earth. By which I mean, two characters, while casually talking about another topic entirely, turn skyward and point to a picture of Steve Ignorant as an aside. Not to nitpick, but for a comic book about a band that’s eighty percent female, I think it would have been more appropriate to have a picture of Joy De Vivre or Eve Libertine.

As both a hardcore comic book nerd and a punk rock fanatic, I’m displeased with this book on a number of levels. There are a lot of cases where the art fluctuates wildly. Character designs range from overly detailed to simplistically cartoonish. One character has no visible nose, while every other character does. The larger problem is that the book contains two parallel storylines which don’t really complement each other as much as they fight for attention. The band storyline takes up a good chunk of the book, so much so that the other storyline—Maxi’s criminal record and subsequent police investigation—seems like it belongs to an entirely different book.

The writing suffers from giving way too much information. Literally every panel has text even when none is necessary. When a panel has a person entering a car, there is no need for a caption saying the same thing. If you don’t trust your artist to get this message across, work with a different artist.

Side characters tend to be broad caricatures, like the rich man whose pockets are overflowing with money. Main characters have more personalities, but often when they’re left to argue amongst each other, their fights don’t sound real. Well, I suppose their fights are real enough inasmuch that two people with those opinions wouldn’t get along, but I have a hard time believing that if a real band fought about the same topics that they would have continued being a band for more than a few days.

Then there’s the huge problem of the book’s overall design. Awful font choices and ugly word balloons create an atmosphere of an MS Paint-produced book. This book is filled with a lot of mistakes with a story that’s not necessarily bad, but uneven. One final thing, it’s a cardinal sin to present your story as if it’s complete only to have end with “to be continued…” Grade: D. –Bryan Static (Swamp Road LLC, PO Box 94, Stuartsville, NJ08886)