The Onion A/V Club
There’s a ragged, scattershot quality to Outlaw Efforts (Swamp Road) that makes perfect sense, considering it’s a fictionalized chronicle of life in the rock underbelly of San Francisco as written by a veteran of the New York punk scene, Natalie Jacobson. Rather than rehash anecdotes about the good-bad old days, though, she and artist Joey Maltese craft a narrative that’s more gonzo, in the vein of Repo Man, than merely another sex-and-drugs rehash of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle—up to and including criminal subplots and curiously inhuman-looking law-enforcement officers. That said, Outlaw Efforts is one of the best subcultural chronicles in graphic-novel form in ages, one that wallows in all the requisite squalor while showing the complexity, sexual politics, and dreams of brighter things at the core of such hardcore desperation. Maltese’s cartooning is stiff and thin in spots, as is Jacobson’s on-the-nose storytelling, which relies too heavily on expository prose. But the book’s clarity, sharp dialogue, and dark charm more than make up for it.