Suzi Romaine

It’s Monday, so here’s a minicomic! This one is cheating, though, because I have no idea how you’d get a copy… but it’s so entertaining that I had to talk about it.

There were three Suzi Romaine minicomics released in 1993 by Ted Slampyak. You may know his wonderful historical mystery webcomic Jazz Age Comics, and he illustrates (Little Orphan) Annie. He’s also a Libertarian, which is relevant because, as this Comics Reporter interview discusses,

Suzi was created after reading a lot of Ayn Rand, who I was really into at the time. One of the things Rand talked about in her essays was how so many conventions of storytelling were based on some preconceived notions — the successful businessman turns out to be the bad guy, and the ones who try to pull him down are the good guys, and always have the best of motives. I tried to turn that on its head, and create a character who’s a fun-loving, free-wheeling businesswoman, who runs a chain of restaurants her way, and who thwarts the attempts of others to make her do things their way, or who just want her to stop being so brazenly successful. A sort of individual-versus-collective kind of story.

I only found this out later, and while it’s an interesting and unusual perspective to see represented, the stories are just fine without this knowledge or inclination. So what are they?

In “Rubbish”, a trash strike is making Suzi’s restaurant unpleasant to visit. She decides to hire her own truck and take her own trash to a landfill, which brings her in conflict with the union. Suzi’s spunky, lithe, and active with a face that vaguely reminds me of Mia Farrow, only topped by a two-tone ponytail. She’s a fighter, too, able to defend herself in the face of thugs trying to stop her.

“Who’s Afraid of Officer Campbell?” pits Suzi against the law. The officer’s controlling every aspect of life in Eggville through permits and regulations, so Suzi brings him down to size through the most creative use of a car antenna and hood I’ve ever seen.

“Enemy Terrayne” introduces Jayne, a corporate spy sent to infiltrate Suzi’s macrobiotic health fast food chain and steal her recipes. Of course, she’s bested, but only after a fist fight, attempted citizen’s arrest, and dynamite car chase.

It’s all told with Slampyak’s smooth lines without skimping on action. Suzi’s quick with a gun and drives a darling convertible Volkswagen bug (another favorite of Slampyak’s). Her outfit, an odd combination of frock coat, unitard, and cutoff shorts, is as quirky as she is. Even if you don’t agree with her politics, her individualism and can-do spirit is inspirational. Suzi’s the kind of character I’d like to see more often in comics — a capable woman who goes after what she wants and gets it.

13 Responses to “Suzi Romaine”

  1. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Johanna, How do these compare to the Steve Ditko’s comics, since both use Ayn Rand? It would be interesting to compare these to say Ditko’s Shade-the Changing Man or Mr. A.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I don’t know — I haven’t read much Ditko, I’m afraid. You’re right, though, that would be an interesting comparison.

  3. Marisa Says:

    These sound great, particularly because I like Ted Slampyak’s vintage-ey illustration style. Naturally, I’m having that response to somethingI may not be able to locate!

  4. Steve Lieber Says:

    Ted’s work is a whole lot less didactic than Ditko’s. Ted’s an entertainer whose storytelling choices are sometimes informed by his politics. Ditko’s Mr. A-era work always struck me as a vehicle for delivering lectures. What entertainment there is (for me) comes from a scary intensity that reminds me of Jack Chick tracts.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Marisa, I didn’t even think about asking on his message board if they’re still available! At least he’s easily findable online.

    Steve, thanks for that informed comparison.

  6. John Platt Says:

    Wow, someone else who remembers “Suzi Romaine”! I thought I was the only one!

    I totally missed the new take on the “Annie” strip. Thanks for pointing that out!

  7. Johanna Says:

    Glad I could help! I’m always glad to see someone I was reading a decade ago still working. :)

  8. James Schee Says:

    I’m enjoying the Mini Monday thing so far. Any plans for other days for certain things? Like Foreign Friday, where you can cover foreign origin comics. (manga, European and the like)

  9. D.J. Omri Says:

    I was lucky enough to get the Suzi Romaine minicomics many years ago. I’d like to point out that two of the Suzi stories were reprinted in Negative Burn #38 and #40. So if you want a taste of what Suzi is all about, check out those back issue bins at your local comic shop.

    Oh, and if you’re not reading the Jazz Age webcomic, what are you waiting for?

    One more thing for Steve Lieber: I loved your work (along with Ted Slampyak’s) on the Roadway mini-series that you did many, many years ago. If anyone wants to check out this series, it’s worth digging in those back issue bins!

  10. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    I think I picked up my copies of the Suzi Romaine comics at the comic book convention in Philadelphia in 1995. Wow, tha’ts a look back! There was a dinner at that thing with a lot of internet (CompuServe, mabe?) regulars, including Steve Lieber, as I recall.

    I’m happy to hear of a comics creator who recognizes the anti-corporate snobbery of creators. Makes me want to dig up those comics again.

  11. Paul O'Brien Says:

    I think you’re misreading her worldview, Augie. It’s pro-capitalist, but not especially pro-corporate. The small businessman is a Randian hero. The middle manager isn’t, because they’re just a cog in a machine. In fact, the small press creator who goes their own way and refuses to compromise on their artistic vision to meet corporate demands is Very Randian Indeed – compare the plot of THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

  12. Johanna Says:

    James, interesting idea, but I want to make sure I can keep this feature going before setting up more regimented days for myself.

    DJ, thanks for the Negative Burn pointer. And I remember Roadways fondly, too!

  13. Ted Slampyak Says:

    Johanna, et al:

    Wow! I just came across this review — apparently it is a good thing to Google oneself every now and then!

    I’m SO pleased that there are people out there who remember Suzi — and not just my old friends Johanna and Steve! Thanks so much for the kind words, and the boost to my ego that artists like me always seem to need more of.

    I don’t have the Suzi minicomics in print right now, but maybe it’s time to bring them back. And maybe it’s time to finally make that miniseries of her that the minicomics were meant to be preludes to…!

    Anyway, thanks again for the rich flattery!




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