By Justin Wood
Sometimes a book comes along to make you appreciate this visual medium. A reminder of the talent and skill goes into books, sometimes completely unappreciated, the kinds of choices being made by artists that are misattributed or unconsciously ignored. T.I.T.S, curiously, did that for me. Despite being a writer and artist myself, it made me reevaluate the real impact the choices of an artist have on how stories are experienced in ways that are separate from the creative choices of the writer. It's not because T.I.T.S was particularly meaningful or imaginative in its choices, but rather because it took me till halfway through the book to finally realize that it had nothing going on in the writing department but was disguised by some pretty decent art.
Not sure what the plot of T.I.T.S really is, because it would rather try to be wacky than have narrative thrust, and like Speak No Evil, it has no idea how single issue endings work. There is an interdimensional taxi cab service, and two of their worst drivers are tasked with a job we don't fully understand but apparently has some sort of consequences that we are left in the dark about. The taxi cab driver is an easily distractable alcoholic with a penchant for killing dogs with his cab, accompanied by a sentient black cat with fully articulated paw hands. Meanwhile, in a currently unrelated story, a big tittied lesbian/bisexual cop does cop stuff in between receiving lap dances and leering panel compositions. The comic ends in the middle of an ongoing scene without any hook or break in the action, making me think this comic was scripted as one story and then broken up based on page count.
As stated previously, I didn't figure out that the book had nothing until late in the game. It's not so obviously poorly written that it screamed it from the first page, and the production quality on the book is surprisingly decent. The most dramatic problem is the script's emphasis on "yeah, we went there!" humor over telling a story. It reminds me of current Deadpool comics, in so much that the book feels like it was written by Deadpool himself. Cheap, familiar jokes are made about strippers coming from abusive households. Dogs are pulverized by car tires, spraying their owners with flecks of blood. Intercharacter exposition is flavored with calling our female cop to her face an "ice cold cunt." The problem isn't that it's shocking or offensive, it's that it doesn't have anything going for it other than trying hard to be shocking and offensive. Like The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and Drawn Together, it finds obscenity the goal in and of itself, but without the real refined dedication to the profane that books like The Auteur or Nightmare the Rat do. The writing reminded me of a roundtable discussion I saw with a Z-list horror movie director, who, while outlining his rules for comedy, made the comment that seeing people get hit in the nuts is "never not funny," to which you could visibly see everyone else at the table collectively bite their tongues. Vulgarity isn't a patch for creativity, and there are tired cliches in this book I can't believe people still unironically write anymore.
But the art is pretty good. Illustrated in a hybrid style between realism and exaggeration, the book lends a certain charismatic expression to the characters, and the colors clearly had time taken on them, if they are in places a little overworked. That's how a book can fool you with art, as the expression and attention to detail gave the book an undeserved energy and character. Scenes that aren't actually funny are given a touch of flair and pages with nothing interesting being said are made interesting to look at because those cat paw hands look great. I wasn't bowled over by the art, but I do appreciate the effort applied because the book does look genuinely professional and the same can't be said for a lot of what I read from the self-publishing sector.
I didn't hate T.I.T.S because it didn't insult me with its quality. Sure, it's lazily misogynistic and already broken from a plotting standpoint (seriously self-publishers, plot out your issues not just your arcs), but time was spent to make the book look sellable, and it at least made me want to be on its side initially. The lesson of T.I.T.S is simple: it is worth your time and money to pay talented people to illustrate your book, but it's worth more to write something worth illustrating in the first place.
Creators: Colton Sorrels, Casey Sorrels