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brilliant writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 8
The Bunch's Power Pak Comics #2
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Only Printing / August, 1981 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink
Aline Kominsky produced Power Pak Comics #2 in 1981 while she was pregnant with her daughter, Sophie. Kominsky was determined to finish the book during her pregnancy, because she figured she wouldn't get much artwork done after having the baby. The book was published in August and Sophie was born in September.

Power Pak #2 begins by revealing what every underground comix fan wanted to know: "Why the Bunch Can't Draw." The story recounts Kominsky's passion for art during childhood and the early encouragement she received from her parents and teachers. But when she studies art at two different colleges, she gets discouraged by criticism and seems more interested in partying and fucking her teachers than becoming a successful artist.

The seven-page story concludes after she graduates from college and discovers underground comics and the art of Robert Crumb. When two cartoonists (unnamed in the story but actually Spain Rodriguez and Kim Deitch) visit a friend of hers, they encourage the Bunch to move to San Francisco and give comics a try. Which of course she does, and she soon gets published, but her drawing skills scarcely improve. As the Bunch puts it, "I'm the Bunch and I'll never be any good!" The story doesn't actually explain why Kominsky draws the way she does, but years later she offers this in an interview with The Comics Journal:
"Comics are my worst artwork because it taps into some unconscious and primitive part of me that's not controlled by intellectual interference. I consider that its strength. I don't know how to refine that without messing it up."

Another high point in the book is the three-page "Of What Use is a Bunch?" The story is perhaps Kominsky's most cynical and self-loathing comic ever, as she cites one character trait after another that make her an unbearably vile, shallow and tempermental woman. This willingness to expose the ugliest side of her personality is a trademark of Kominsky's work, but "Of What Use is a Bunch?" may represent the pinnacle of her confessional comics. The reader must remember, however, that while the work is brutally honest, it remains satirical. As Kominsky put it, "When I was doing it, I was in a good mood. I was laughing when I was doing it."

Though Peter Bagge called Power Pak #2 "the most neurotic comic book I ever saw," the book concludes with a sincere and heartfelt story about Kominsky traveling back to New York to attend her grandfather's funeral. During the visit, she confirms that she hates New York and loves her life in California, but she also spends a lot of time with her grandma, which proves to be consoling for both of them.

Power Pak Comics #2 offers some of Kominsky's better comics along with some that are just okay, but the stronger work makes this required reading for her fans
. As always, Kominsky's work is not going to appeal to everyone, especially those who can't enjoy a story that is illustrated with traditional drawing qualities. But her writing may be the best of all the female underground creators and ranks with the best of anyone from the golden era of undergrounds.
Kitchen Sink printed approximately 7,500 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
Aline Kominsky Crumb - 1-34, 36