Money changes everything: Supermarket #1-4

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Supermarket #1-4, by Kristian Donaldson

I've already talked on my other blog of my appreciation for Kristian Donaldson's use of color in Supermarket, but the series' covers deserve further mention here.

Now on its second issue, Supermarket is Brian Wood and Donaldson's tale of consumerism, murder and warring Yakuza and Porno Swede crime families set in the near-future world of the City.

In Donaldson's interior art, color plays a key storytelling role, as the idyllic (if rather boring) suburbs are flooded with the same fluorescent oranges, greens, pinks and blues as the convenience store where our protagonist, Pella, works. When the action moves to the sprawling, congested City, the palette shifts, too, as an oily film seems to cover the buildings and streets. Browns, crimsons and grays dominate the cityscape, with the neon hues returning primarily in the form of enormous billboards and business signage, glimpses of sky and, occasionally, Pella herself.

A similar philosophy seeps through in the covers to the first four issues.

With Issue 1, we're treated to those same fluorescent tones, in blocks that mimic the acrylic paneling of the corner store or the window placards advertising daily specials. Mopish Pella -- we know it's her from her impersonal employee nametag -- is draped in deep pink, a color that becomes associated with her inside the book. (Stereotypical? Eh, maybe.) The cigarette-smoking Yakuza, stripped across the top, also are color-coded; notice that they appear in shades of blue on these four covers.

I like the book's logo, such that it is, particularly on this premiere issue. Here, it mirrors the signage of the local Pit-n-Git or Shop-n-Go or some other awkwardly hyphenated convenience store. It almost perfectly completes that look of suburban consumerism.

Issue 2 introduces more muted tones, with the image split up to make, essentially, four smaller covers. Or maybe they're window placards or sandwich boards. In any case, the color coding continues, with Pella standing against a pink background and the Yakuza in blue. Curiously, the Porno Swedes don't follow suit -- here, they're in green and orange, but on the next cover they're in pink and blue.

The cover for Issue 3 is probably my favorite so far, as Donaldson transforms the characters' word balloons into billboards. While Pella's sign advertises the book itself, the others contain pictographs that market love, money and death (murder?).

The neon colors -- with the notable exception of Pella's deep pink or magenta -- are abandoned on the more complex cover of the fourth issue in favor of those murky colors of the City: slate, brick and goldenrod. The lower left corner looks as if glue has soaked through, adding to the grime. Maybe it's a poster, pasted on the side of an abandoned building, or a flier stuck to a lamppost.

Of course, we can't ignore the money imagery at work here, with Pella's portait in place of a president, monarch or other notable figure, and her family name -- which, not-so-coincidentally, is also a brand name -- replacing "Washington" or "Franklin" on the scroll below.

The pictographs return, this time in the form of a floating crown, a heart and cross-bones, and a hand with a severed pinky -- the latter a self-inflicted punishment in the Japanese underworld indicating an inability to fulfill responsibilities.

(I love that last morbid little detail.)

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