Worth its Weight in Platinum
Platinum Grit Vol. 1.
By Trudy Cooper and Danny Murphy.
Dead Numbat Productions and Image Comics/Shadowline Comics, 2009 (originally 1994), 148pp, US$14.99 (print), $1.99 (Comixology), free (webcomic)
Although several volumes of Platinum Grit had been available through a print-on-demand service for quite a while, this was the first time that the adventures of Nils and Jeremy had been anything but self-published. Stalwarts of the Australian self-publishing scene since the 90s, Dead Numbat Productions had finally had the brilliance that is Platinum Grit recognised by a larger publisher in the form of Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint.
To sum up Platinum Grit‘s storyline is not an easy task (and that’s a good thing) but at it’s most basic it’s about the relationship, messed-up and dysfunctional as it is, between Jeremy (an awkward, sensitive, intelligent young man with a scientific bent) and Nils (a selfish, vampy, intelligent young woman with a vicious streak). Jeremy holds an all too obvious flame for Nils, who twists his unrequited love for her like a knife in his naive heart. Why Nils continues to hang around with Jeremy is not really clear at this point, other than the fact that he’s just inherited a Scottish castle anyway. The hijinks that ensue, which include an immortal Scottish warrior, mad relatives, the zodiac personified (and partied with), a clueless private detective, aliens and space commandoes, to name only some, are deftly written. Pacing, characterisation, dialogue, plot, comedy, are all handled with great skill, but the interplay and banter between characters is truly the highlight. At times taking reasonably surreal turns, the narrative is always interesting and witty.
The comedic timing is all the more enhanced by Trudy Cooper’s art. The layout and pacing are very well handled for the most part. There are a few brief moments when Cooper’s inexperience in both drafting and page design is evident in this, some of her earliest work, but probably only to a very keen eye. Ninety percent of the book is spot-on, with an animation-influenced cartoon style that is a joy to read. The facial expressions and body language of the characters are expertly handled, and their designs delightful. I think Nils may be the sexiest woman to ever grace the pages of any comic book, and to the credit of the writing, regardless of her amazing shape and sultry eyes, she is most despicable.
The story is enticing, the characters are engaging, and the art is charming. Platinum Grit is a must buy for comics readers who want comic comics that are silly but not stupid, fun but not childish, with an emotion-filled but not soppy heart. It’s a great ride that definitely leaves you wanting more, and the best thing is, I know it only gets better from here! Read it, it’s brilliant.
Unfortunately, although a larger, more mainstream publisher recognised the brilliance of Platinum Grit, it seems the public may not have. There have been no further Image Comics/Shadowline volumes of Platinum Grit since this one, and to rub salt in the wound the print-on-demand service that was available for a very long time has also been discontinued. This particular volume looks to still be available at Amazon, as well as digitally via Comixology. The entirety of the series is available to read on the Platinum Grit website for free (and this first volume is only an indication of how good it gets), and most of it is also on the Shadowline webcomics website as well. No matter how you go about it, this first volume is highly worthy of your time tracking down, and then to continue to track down subsequent volumes.