Gross Point #1 (August, 1997)
“Welcome to Gross Point”
Story – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Pencils – Sean “S.M.” Taggart
Inks – Roger Langridge
Colors – Patricia Mulvihill
Letters – Rick Parker
Editor – Martin Pasko
Cover Price: $2.50
Welcome to a “sort-kinda” installment of #boohauntedblog.
Gross Point is one of those books that totally flew under my radar back in the long ago. Just looking at the cover tells me this probably isn’t my kind of book… let’s find out together.
We open with the Pickett family as they drive into their new home town, Gross Point. Looks like Howard (the father) finally found himself a job that doesn’t involve bagging groceries. His wife, Charmaine is supportive, but not all that happy that he appears to be falling asleep at the wheel. In the back seat, we meet their children, teen-age twins Terri and Andy… who are at each other’s throats over a pair of dead batteries, and a missing hair dryer.
As they drive, we can get a look at how strange this little town is. There’s a boy delivering papers from a wagon being pulled by a little were-beast. A Policeman appears to have a whistle growing out of his face, a reptilian child is being pushed in a baby carriage… they also pass a “Jiffy Mortuary” where your passed loved ones can be laminated while you wait. What I’m saying is, this is an odd place.
They finally pull up to their new digs, which is right next door to a house shaped like a rubber duck… only to find that it’s still being worked on.
Their robotic realtor explains that the place ain’t quite ready for them yet (they’ve got some “howling” to deal with), and sends them to the nearby Hotel DeKaye for the night. As our Picketts pull away, we can see that another one of their neighbors is dealing with a tentacled horror. Nobody notices this.
At the Hotel, the Picketts are “greeted” by a pair of surly
siamese conjoined twins. Their bags are taken by a rabid monkey bellboy named Klepto. Yeah… this is starting to wear on me a bit.
We join Terri and Andy in their room… where they argue some more about the blow dryer. As Andy tries to fall asleep, he realizes he is in direct beam of a nearby lighthouse (there are no bodies of water around, by the way).
The next morning, the Picketts wake up late. Ya see, Klepto stole their alarm clock. This means that Howard Pickett is late for his first day of work. Whoops. The kids are left to their own devices for the day… Dad heads in to work anyway, and Mom trudges down to the Employment Office, where she meets a Fortune Teller of some stripe, because of course she does.
We follow Howard into work at Septum International Corporation )(SIC), where he has his first meeting with his new boss, Mr. Septum. The boss has a gigantic nose… and thinks the name “Pickett” is a joke about it. He renames our man “Peckman”. He dismisses Howard with a supersonic sneeze, which leaves him in a bad way.
We shift scenes to the Gross Point Mall where Andy and Terri are… well, loitering for a bit. A lot of low-hanging “weirdness” is afoot… and it feels like we’ve been reading this for several hours at this point.
They head into an arcade where Andy almost plays a game of 9-Fingered Dave… which involves sticking one’s hand into a hole (and probably taking it out one finger short). Thankfully (?) Terri realizes the gimmick, and we don’t find out.
Their next stop is a fine eatery… okay, the food court. They eat, and they puke. After an argument (during which Terri invokes the dreaded “Scrote-Azoid” insult) they part company.
The return to their new home (separately)… and are both forced to break in (again, separately… so, now the house has two busted out points-of-entry). They run into one another inside, and nearly scare the “scrapple” out of each other.
To further that fear, they then hear that howling the robo-realtor warned them about. Then… out of nowhere, a weird little hunchbacked handyman appears. He puts together a makeshift flamethrower and heads into the basement to deal with… whatever the hell is howling.
Quick as he arrives, he vanishes… back into the cuckoo clock? Okay.
The issue (finally) ends with the twins making nice and the family moving into their new digs. Oh yeah, also with the realization that they’re still in the direct beam of the lighthouse. Wonk wonk wonkkkk.
Well, this felt endless.
Like I mentioned during the pre-ramble, this is one of those books I don’t remember ever seeing on the racks. One of those oddities you discover in the bins, and you you’re so surprised that you actually attempt to triangulate your fandom around where you were when this book came out. It’s like, yeah… I was buying comics… so, why in the hell do I not remember this?!
Well, it doesn’t seem like 17 year old Chris missed out on all that much. This was (in my opinion)… pretty weak, poorly paced, and… ultimately, I feel it overstayed its welcome. There were plenty of neat and clever little “bits” here… it’s just that they were buried among just so many that missed the mark. Speedy-Mortuary equipped with a laminating machine? Clever. Big-nosed CEO? Not so much.
It’s not that the trappings were bad… I’m always down for a “fish out of water” story… plopping an ordinary family into this quirky, unreal town of Gross Point… should be a slam dunk. But, it’s not. I dunno, maybe it’s me. None of the characters come across as all that likable… seems like if even one of ’em were, there might be something to “grab” me… give me something to root for.
The art here is pretty neat… it reminds me of that short-lived show, Mission Hill. Even a little bit like that (also, short-lived) Clerks. animated series. The art is definitely the highlight (at least for me), and is doing all of the heavy-lifting.
Overall… well, I couldn’t flat-out tell ya to “avoid” this… just that I didn’t much care for it.