December 18, 2010

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Fingerprints

The Week of Top Shelf Comics marches on!

Written by Will Dinski
Illustrated by Will Dinski
Top Shelf

In a world of fakes, Dr. Fingers is King. His work as a plastic surgeon is regarded as divine by all who view the famous. He's even made sure his wife is free from blemish. But when a usurper within his own practice arrives promising a new look for all who want it, can Dr. Fingers handle the competition? This is a story of jealousy, betrayal, and the fragile nature of fame and identity, all within a book that's strikingly short but also quite effective in its biting social commentary.

I admit that I was a bit superficial when I first saw this book. I didn't think there was a lot to it, given the simple drawings and characters that seemed rather flat and lacking personality. The problem is that it's those very things that make Dinski's book work. They don't do much when you are first approaching the text, but by the time you reach the end, it's clear that the book could have been written no other way. This is one of those situations where you can't get a feel from the book just by reading a portion of it. It requires the entire text and pictures to be digested to see why it's a book you want to read.

The story itself reminds me of one that Daniel Clowes might write. The action starts off slowly with a premise that builds to the climax, where all who want to emulate the hottest stars will get their chance--for a horrible price. We certainly don't like the people we are reading about. The underbelly of human nature is exposed as the story unfolds. I ended the book with a mix of pity and disgust at the actions of those who would rather live life as someone else, rather than who they actually are. That's the commentary Dinski brings to the table, and I thought it was handled quite well.

Dinski uses a lot of little touches that make this book work. There's a vapid party where people are getting botox injections the way others might hand out party drugs. Drinkers made vapid comments on the way people look, and the truth only comes out after anyone has had a few too many. The idea that Fingers' work could be manipulated--almost perverted, as if the act of crafting fake beauty was not horrific enough--is obvious and yet a surprise all at the same time. Even the title, Fingerprints, is a wry pun. Fingerprints are of course unique, but what Dr. Finger does takes away the individuality of his clients. Characters are created that we can recognize in real life, without even looking like a particular star. This is a world that's all too familiar, and despite its fantastic trappings, could easily play out right here, right now.

Yet at no time do we get a sense that Dinski is moralizing. Instead, he's showing us a side of our worship of fame, success, and beauty that will, in the end, drive us all to desperate things. All Dinski will do is shake his head, as he shows that while we think things can change, in the end we're still a bunch of horrible people thinking horrible things. He merely chronicles the action, as passive as any objective narrator, knowing he's smarter than everyone else in the room.

I feel like Fingerprints may not get the exposure it deserves because it's not an eye-catching book, and that's a shame. I almost missed the appeal of this book myself. I think it's rather ironic that a book that critiques superficial impressions might just be overlooked because of those same impressions. Don't make that mistake--grab a copy of Fingerprints and see for yourself Dinski's talents as a writer. You'll be glad you did.

Top Shelf was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this book to review. Thanks! If you are interested in having your work reviewed, please contact me at trebro @ gmail.com.