Johnny Shaw is a hardass with a tender heart
What redeems Shaw's characters? Their cleverness, even when they seem stupid at first. Their self-knowledge, and the zest with which they screw up. The funny things they say without seeming to pat themselves on the back for being funny.
Here's a favorite example, all the more endearing because it occurs at what could be an awkward moment of truth between two characters, without undercutting the seriousness:
"`Look,' Buck Buck said, `I know you're used to sidekicking for Bobby and not me. And I'm used to Snout being my sidekick. But I'm sure we can work it out. Batman usually's got Robin, but I'm sure he teamed up with Aqualad or Speedy and they still beat the bad guy.'You'd never guess the two are about to infiltrate a colony of dangerous bikers. Other things to like about Plaster City:
"`Am I Aqualad in that scenario? I don't sidekick for Bobby,' I said. `I can't believe people can't see this. He's my sidekick. Which means you're Aqualad, I'm Batman.'
"`I'm really more of a leading man.'
"`Okay, how 'bout this? You're still Batman. I'll be Superman. They teamed up all the time. Snout and Bobby are the sidekicks.'
"`I can work with that. But I want to be Green Arrow instead.'"
- Like The Simpsons, it stands four-square for family values, a beautiful thing, despite the shameful appropriation of the term by political opportunists..
- It condemns the exploitation of young women without, however, reducing the characters in question to titillating victimhood.
- Like Shaw's novel Dove Season, it uses the word fiasco in the title, and I'm for anything that has fiasco in it.
© Peter Rozovsky 2014