Miscellanea and Ephemeron
02/20/2005 Archived Entry: "Comics review: Hutch Owen: Unmarketable"
Review by Tom Good
If Dilbert represents a view from the inside of corporate America, where cubicle-jockeys learn to play the corporate game, then Hutch Owen takes a completely different, outsider's view. Hutch is an anti-establishment slacker who scrounges food from garbage cans and is suspicious of the very idea of commerce.
In the book's longest story, titled Public Relations, Hutch attends a PR event for Bird Burger, where he grabs the microphone and rants at the crowd: "You gluttonous job-gotting free-food greeding tomato eaters [. . .] The world creaks and you buck and whinney like a gangrene mule to your graceless desires!" His behavior is so over-the-top that a PR executive assumes he must be a paid actor, there to showcase the plight of the underprivileged.
A job offer follows, and Hutch finds himself employed by the sort of corporation he despises. Hutch's antithesis is Dennis Worner, a powerful capitalist who spouts boardroom babble: "What is the half-life of your innovation?" he asks. "If you have nothing left then where are your marbles?" Though Hutch Owen is drawn with a primitive style, the artwork is very expressive. Hart cleverly chose to draw Worner as cleaned-up, presentable version of Hutch, which highlights the fact that both are angry, opinionated men who believe in the life they have chosen. Though Hutch Owen has an anti-establishment philosophy, the corporate executives defend their point of view when they debate Hutch. "What is your [moral] compass doing?" one asks him. "Telling you to sleep on cots and roam the streets? How are you making a difference? Your stubbornness and crankiness - is that bettering the world?"
By allowing the reader to sympathize with both sides, the story develops more depth than a simple complaint against the corporate world. And the book is full of funny moments, such as when Worner's assistant proposes making easier to pronounce prescription drugs ("Ask your doctor about happy yellow pill."). Hutch Owen is charming, thought-provoking and recommended reading.
Link: Hutch Owen daily
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