Saturday, June 06, 2009

Out of the Vault - Banzai Girl #2

Banzai Girl #2This is actually a bit recent for the Vault. Most of the comics I cover are from the previous century, 60's through 90's. But since I'm on a real-life-cheesecake-girls-in-comics kick, I figured I'd keep the streak alive with Banzai Girl, the Adventures of Jinky Coronado.

Published in 2002 by Sirius, Banzai Girl is the story of real-life Filipina model/hot babe Jinky Coronado. Jinky is just your average high-school girl who likes to hang out at the mall with her friends. But she is troubled by recurring dreams of herself as a fantasy princess and a futuristic warrior. In both sets of dreams, she is battling evil supernatural horrors. And when the horrors cross over into her waking life, Jinky realizes she may not be so average after all.

What made Banzai Girl unique was not just that the characters were based on Jinky's real-life friends and family. It was also that, unlike Flaxen or Barbi Twins Adventures, Jinky's adventures were written and drawn by Jinky herself (along with co-artist Wunan and colorist Michael Kelleher).

Banzai Girl #2 back coverAccording to an interview, Jinky (it may be impertinent to keep calling her by her first name, but dammit, Jinky's just such a fun name) started the comic after attending a seminar on comics creation. It started out as a simple depiction of Jinky's life with her family and friends, but at the suggestion of incorporating more "trappings of the genre" (meaning monsters and fistfights, apparently), Jinky's marketing degree took over, and she turned the comic into every fanboy's dream.

For instance, issue #2 depicted here. As you can see, once again we have two cover illustrations (although the issue is not a flipbook, so it does not count as two front covers).

There was actually a third variant cover featuring a photo of Jinky in costume being menaced by cartoon tentacles, but I couldn't get a good scan of it (I don't have the issue, just the in-house ad to go by). You can see it here.

This is as subtle as Banzai Girl getsAs the issue opens, Jinky and her best friend Katie J. are being attacked by an angry tree, giving us our first glimpse of Jinky's skirt, which can never seem to cover her ass for more than one panel. The girls escape the clutching branches, as the tree devours, then spits out, Katie's backpack. The only thing missing is some chalk she was taking to school for the blackboard.

Meanwhile, the parents in town are being possessed one by one by sinister creatures known as Shadow Whisperers, who also seem to be behind the opening of a new local mall. Bad news for teenage loiterers!

And later, as Jinky sleeps, she has a dream in which she is a futuristic warrior battling an alien ship devouring calcium deposits, and another in which she is the princess of a fantasy kingdom who is attacked by a nasty creature who sucks the bones out of one of her guards.

Sucks to be him

Jinky wakes up the next morning to discover that her parents have been possessed and more tentacles are trying to burst in through her bedroom door, while Katie J. pulls out a really big-ass gun to shoot 'em with.

The rest of the issue consists of in-house ads and photos of Jinky in her schoolgirl outfit.

And even though it seems just as silly and content-free and full of vanity as both Flaxen and Barbi Twins Adventures were, Banzai Girl is a much better comic. Because it really is a comic.

Flaxen used Susie Owens's real life as a vehicle to tell leaden lessons in self-esteem. And Barbi Twins, while trying to be flip and satirical, never had any spark; it was too obviously a flimsily-constructed publicity stunt rather than a serious effort at an entertaining comic.

But Banzai Girl, while being as vapid as most of comics of the 90's and early oughts, was at least vapid in a comic-y way. And entertaining, to boot. Jinky Coronado brought a spark and energy to her writing and art that the guns-for-hire doing the other real-girl books never did.

The proof is in the sales. While Barbi Twins Adventures was a one-shot, and Flaxen a two-shot(or perhaps more correctly, two one-shots), Banzai Girl ran for four issues, was collected into a trade edition, and more recently, a four-issue sequel series, Banzai Girls, was also published. And more apparently is on the way. Banzai Girl was that true rarity, a vanity comic that actually works as a comic.

1 comment:

Jinky Coronado said...

Thanks for your kind words!

-- Jinky