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'Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost' #1 promises high stakes and escalating weirdness
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost’ #1 promises high stakes and escalating weirdness

‘Stone Ghost’ moves on from the last miniseries into new, tonally different and aesthetic-twisting spaces.

I’m going to be honest right away here and say that no review I do of a book by Jim Mahfood is going to be one hundred percent objective. You see, back in the early 2000s, just as I was starting to discover mail-order indie record labels, zines, and the whole world of underground art, I came across his old website. His artwork blew me away then — as it does now — and I cobbled together my dollars, borrowed my mom’s credit card, and sent away for the first three issues of his mini-comic, 40 Oz Comics.

These comics inspired me so deeply that, several months later, I self-published this horrible, Ginsberg-ian epic poem with a lot of sophomoric, highly idealized thoughts about the nature of art and what it meant to me at the age of seventeen. It was not very good, but I went ahead and sent it to the return address on the envelope my mini-comics arrived in, perhaps in a sort of “look what you made me do” way.

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About a year later, a big manilla envelope showed up in my mailbox, and inside was a pile of photocopies of a cover Jim Mahfood drew for my stupid poem. In his incredible, iconic style, with thick blacks, iconic imagery, and distinct lettering, there was my title, my thoughts, my name.

The image still hangs over my writing desk. It is a prized possession. And the man just made it for me because he’s a genuine sweetie and all-around genius. He also, probably, was nowhere near as busy at the time as he is now.

Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1
Stereo-equipment skylines abound.
Image Comics

So, yeah, my review of Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1 isn’t likely to be the most objective of my career. The twenty-ish years between my idealistic, idiot poet self and now have not been short enough to erase the sort of starstruck joy of his unique, hyper-kinetic artwork — artwork that, in Stone Ghost, has spiraled far past the more traditional layouts of 40 Oz Comics or the initial Grrl Scouts miniseries and into sprawling, jagged vistas.

Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1
Scouts and Socks make a very brief cameo.
Image Comics

His artwork remains unlike anyone else on the market, and even the coloring is specific to Mahfood — the old black-and-white aesthetic of Xeroxed mini-comics subtly enhanced by brief, sometimes jarring, splashes of color. His characters, which have always had a distinctive, elongated shape, are now almost free-flowing, more stream-of-consciousness as if Jim has given himself over to the spontaneity of his live-art and body-painting sessions. Paint splatter and collage became fully integrated aspects of the artwork, as organic as the linework.

Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1
Space Cult Vibes
Image Comics

The narrative of the Grrl Scouts has likewise evolved — what began in the mid-’90s as a sort of hyper-violent, drug-dealing and anti-corporate slacker story has grown into a space epic. Rather than dealing with our original trio of scouts (Gwen, Rita, and Daphne), the issue follows potential new scout Dio, her bounty-hunter bodyguard Turtleneck Jones, and Gordie, a floating space octopus. A sinister force is blackmailing Gordie, putting Dio and Turtleneck in danger.

Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1
At least the baddies are delightful enough for pie-making tips.
Image Comics

It isn’t until after a soulful, heart-wrenching flashback about Dio’s boyfriend (who died of cancer) — a detail that we learn, in Mahfood’s journal-strip epilogue, happens to be pulled from his own friend’s death — that we find out that our original Grrl Scouts (and the Magic Socks from their last mini-series) are set to play a role in the narrative: they’re being hunted out here in space.

Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1
A heartbreak in miniature.
Image Comics

It’s a disorienting first issue, sure, but it’s also an issue that promises high stakes and escalating weirdness. Each page contains a seed of detail about this new cosmic landscape, and leaning into the wonder of it all leaves the reader poised to be surprised at each shocking bit of action rather than be expectant of it. The heartfelt nature of the flashback connects us even to the cast of characters who are only, like us, recipients of its story, and it invests us in the distressing end of the issue.

What I’m saying is add it to your pull-list and strap in.

'Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost' #1 promises high stakes and escalating weirdness
‘Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost’ #1 promises high stakes and escalating weirdness
Grrl Scouts - Stone Ghost
'Stone Ghost' moves on from the last miniseries into new, tonally different and aesthetic-twisting spaces, and continues to showcase Mahfood's ever-evolving style.
Reader Rating1 Vote
9.2
Mahfood's work is an artistically singular experience.
A new cast of characters means that this is a great place to jump in for new readers.
Surprisingly touching (and shocking) moments connect the reader to new characters with little to no effort.
Likely to be a little disorienting.
A small trigger warning concerning self-inflicted gun violence.
8.5
Great

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