Old-school, ya hear?
Since its relatively humble beginnings as a one-off episode in Australia’s Issue One Magazine, the story of Platinum Grit and its tragicomic protagonists has grown in spurts and evolved in spasms, transforming from a charming if slightly awkward duckling to a damnably well-done-up swan. Having abandoned its original plot-line of inter-dimensional travel in favour of a more traditional breed of spooky (and sexy), PG thrives on a mixed bag of supernatural adventures and highly suggestive high-jinks.
The back-story in a nutshell: virginal, good-natured, and socially-awkward Scottish inventor/physicist Jeremy Lachlan MacConnor and his “constant companion” Nilson Maria Theresa “Nils” Kerr travel from their home in Australia to the highlands of Scotland to inherit the MacConnor family estate from Jeremy’s “dying” Auntie Lotte. Death threats, violence, and sexy situations ensue, are overcome, return from yet another angle(s), and are overcome again. Well, after a fashion. Following a brief orbital experience involving some well-intended E.T.-types and a calamitous re-entry, Jer and Nils part ways in Greenland. Enter consummate (rather, self-intended) feminist and burgeoning journalist Kate Provoczki, a rail-thin hellstorm of bitter resignation, bone-dry wit, and scathing insecurities. Again: adventure, sexiness, and hilarity ensue.
Fast forward to the present issue—Episode 18: “For a Pair of Fine Carrots (Part 1)”—where Jer, Nils, and Kate are working off the stress of a recent near-death experience (one of many, come to think of it) that had left Jer comatose for a week. Without spoiling too much of the plot, it seems that some sort of otherworldly gate has begun to edge itself open on the grounds of Castle MacConnor, and whatever is coming through has the nastiest of intentions for the unfortunate Jeremy. As such, the dually-frustrated Nils is attempting, and rather unsuccessfully at that, to release some pent-up aggression following her recent stint of death-evading and worried fretting. Oblivious as ever, the recently-awoken Jeremy is simply trying to ease himself back into some semblance of normalcy, or whatever passes for it in his day-to-day life… did someone say “Pigrocket”?
Weird, yes, but endearingly so. Platinum Grit currently exists as an odd hybrid of print and webcomic, with older issues still available in hard copy while the newest editions are posted on the PG website in Flash format. Updates come one issue at a time, usually with a span of some months in-between. Rather than full-on pages or simple three-panel continuations, Platinum Grit progresses as if were more of a storyboard than a comic. At times, the sense of motion between panels—and between “pages,” as it were—is fluid enough to seem animated. The framing is equally cinematic, with lovely close-ups, intriguing perspectives, and clever off-set shots galore.
Visually, Cooper’s artwork has been compared to that of Phil Foglio and to Jamie Hewlett’s work with the Tank Girl series—curvaceous on multiple levels, really. There’s also a hint of Disney-ish charm to her characters, particularly with Jeremy’s oft-befuddled expressions, and with the comic relief provided by German coffee-maker, retainer, and Johann-of-all-trades, Ziegfried (“Ach!”).
With respect to the story and character dynamic, Platinum Grit’s off-beat pop-culture references and risqué elements (the current issue is rather NSFW, as are many other episodes) further exacerbates the Tenchi Muyo!-style interpretation of the classic Archie-Veronica-Betty love-triangle. Take blindly good-natured character A, juxtapose with outgoing and assertive character B, and offset with thinly-veiled competition from appealing character C, whereby no combination of any of the aforementioned elements is feasible without ruining the core suspense which is, naturally, the main draw. It’s an old romantic-comedy trope to be sure, but Cooper and Murphy’s mastery of Monty Python-esque absurdity, combined with their ability to craft a compelling plot of supernatural goings-on (think John Allison’s Scary Go Round welded to Vera Brosgol’s Return to Sender with a dash of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), enhances Platinum Grit’s Jer-Nils-Kate love triangle to the point where you are more than willing to forgive its clichés.
While a little rough around the edges in the early episodes—forgive the blatant Highlander motif of evil cousin Dougal MacWikkening—Platinum Grit is certainly a worthwhile read. Just remember to be patient, as it will probably be a month or three before the release of episode 19. What a way to build the suspense, eh?