Action Figure: From the Journals of Richard Marzelak #1

Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Action Figure: From the Journals of Richard Marzelak  #1 Creator(s): Richard J Marcej
Publishers: Baboon Books (Self Published)
From: US
Price: US$ 3.50

Any comic that deals with the mundane existence of a single white male striving to find time for his creative pursuits while battling against the demands of a job he has no passion for is bound to be compared with the works of Harvey Pekar and in particular ‘American Splendour.’ Indeed there are many similarities between the two but there are also important differences.

‘Action Figure’ begins in the year 2053 and so we quickly learn that the main character, Richard Marzelak, did actually ‘make it’ to the extent that his journals are the source of intense interest to fans. In this way then the tone must be more optimistic because it is obvious that the ‘little guy’ must win at least some of his battles whereas in ‘Splendour’ the overriding feeling is that the day to day struggles are more of a case of avoiding constant defeats and humiliations. A subtle but important difference.

The general storyline follows the mundane day to day existence of Richard Marzelek a frustrated and increasingly bitter employee in the design department of a major toy manufacturer. The character is obviously heavily autobiographical and therefore the intensity of feeling and emotion is effectively and powerfully portrayed.

Marzelak feels that his creativity is severely suppressed in the mundane reality of his working day. A feeling that is intensified when he is taken off a project that he does feel passionate about and placed on what, he perceives to be, a less significant assignment. His paranoia escalates as he believes the boss has a personal vendetta against him, cue in constant whinging.

It is only late at night when he can indulge in the creation of his humorous [but constantly rejected]comic strips that Marzelak feels that his creative sensibilities and sensitivities are allowed room the breathe.

Personally I found that the middle section of this 32 pager started to drag a bit as the main characters whining started to grate, however the plot development at the end of this first edition plus the charming final scene featuring the artist trying to decide between creating more comics or getting some sleep are enough to ensure that I will continue to read future editions.

The art work is bold and confident. This boldness captures well the sense of frustration outlined in the narrative. There is a nice use of reds to convey dream sequences or scenes that take place in the main characters imagination and this visual touch is particularly effective. The presentation is impressive, especially the back cover with the pseudo adverts for Richard Marzelak products.

Essentially this is a tale of white middle class male angst it does seem a little self indulgent in places but it is presented in an honest and soul bearing manner and credit needs to be given for that, it’s just that I have, as yet, not warmed to the main character sufficiently enough to allow for feelings of sympathy to develop.

In a Word: Pekarious.

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