Review – Bad Idea by Damon Suede

Cover-Bad-Idea by Damon SuedePublisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publish Date: October 21, 2013
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Some mistakes are worth making.

Reclusive comic book artist Trip Spector spends his life doodling super-square, straitlaced superheroes, hiding from his fans, and crushing on his unattainable boss until he meets the dork of his dreams. Silas Goolsby is a rowdy FX makeup creator with a loveless love life and a secret streak of geek who yearns for unlikely rescues and a truly creative partnership.

Against their better judgment, they fall victim to chemistry, and what starts as infatuation quickly grows tender and terrifying. With Silas’s help, Trip gambles his heart and his art on a rotten plan: sketching out Scratch, a “very graphic novel” that will either make his name or wreck his career. But even a smash can’t save their world if Trip retreats into his mild-mannered rut, leaving Silas to grapple with betrayal and emotions he can’t escape.

What will it take for this dynamic duo to discover that heroes never play it safe?
This blurb came from Goodreads

First of all, the cover is damn irresistible. Totally appropriate, since the best bad idea involved in this story is creating a graphic novel series starring a gay incubus who goes by the name of ‘Scratch’. Even more fun, his lover is nicknamed ‘Itchy’.

Cover-Horn Gate by Damon SuedeThe graphic novel itself was published earlier this year under the title Horn Gate, just in case you’re curious.

The process of creating ‘Scratch’ scratches itches that nerdy, neurotic Trip Spector didn’t even know he had. That’s saying something, because Trip Spector has so damn many neuroses that they’ve made him pretty much allergic to life.

At least until he meets F/X genius Silas Goolsby at a Zombie Charity Run in New York. Emblematic of the “opposites attract” nature of the relationship they somehow manage to have, Trip is wearing scrubs, because he’s been dragooned into the Zombie OutRun to play a doctor. Wearing the scrubs is a perfect costume for Trip, because he’s so into pretending “respectability” that he’s barely saying he’s out. Silas on the other hand isn’t just out, he’s also totally into the Zombie gig; he’s running as a fully formed (or deformed) zombie.

The still have enough chemistry to fry both their brains. And light up other parts.

But the story is that they have loads in common, and a ton of things that make them completely different. The question from beginning to end is whether the differences are going to overcome the similarities.

Oh, and this is a geek romance. When Silas asks Trip to, “Talk nerdy to me,” he’s far from joking. Bad Idea is a love story, all right. But it’s also a big valentine to people who love comic books, graphic novels and science fiction fan culture in general.

But, and it’s a very big but, there are two glaring problems with this story, one of which bothered me, and one which didn’t but will bother a lot of readers.

Trip Spector is the point of view character. Trip is a complete schlemiel. An absolute total nebbish. He is SO not the hero of his own life to the point of his being incredibly annoying. It would have made a much more fun story if Silas had been the character we followed, because he is actually LIVING his life. Admittedly, Silas doesn’t have anywhere near as hard a journey as Trip does, which is why we follow Trip, but I still wanted to slap Trip upside the head for long stretches of the story. He’s a “sad sack” so often, and his problems are so much of his own making. The reader keeps thinking that he should grow up, grow a pair, and get his own life. He should be too smart for at least some of the crap that he lets happen to him, and it keeps the reader from empathizing.

Trip’s complete loser-com makes the beginning of the story VERY rough going until Silas arrives on the scene.

The story gets better once Silas and Trip get together, but there is a serious amount of fanservice to geeky/nerdy fanculture in general, and the comic book/graphic novel business in particular. Their relationship is wrapped up in the development of a graphic novel, and how that business works. If the reader doesn’t get at least some of the in-jokes involved in the culture, the story loses some of its impact. So it’s fun if you get the jokes, and probably boring if you don’t.

Trip was a difficult person’s head to get into, because he didn’t go anywhere for most of the story. He was always afraid to live. He was afraid that anything he did or changed would lead to disaster, and he forgot that making no decision is also a decision that can lead to disaster. It nearly did.

But I enjoyed the geek/nerd/fanculture aspects a lot. I loved the stuff about Comic Cons and creating a graphic novel and all the in jokes. The stuff about Silas and his game company was especially cool. I just wish he’d found a guy who was closer to having his act together.

I give Bad Idea a C+

2 thoughts on “Review – Bad Idea by Damon Suede”

  1. Oh, man, I’m so torn. I’m reasonably fluent in geek culture, but superheroes and graphic novels aren’t my thing. For that matter, neither is being in the head of a complete nebbish. The review was fantastic, though, and yay for a fellow Seattle-ite!

  2. This book drove me bonkers. I wanted to read something by Suede, because everyone said Hot Head was SO GOOD, but this wasn’t that. Trip has awesome friends, but he isn’t nearly so awesome himself.
    And always great to meet a fellow sufferer in the rain!

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