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Maximum Minimum Wage


Maximum Minimum Wage

Back in the 1990s, a semiautobiographical comic series named Minimum Wagebegan. It depicted both New York City and the 20somethings who lived there with brutal clarity and utter charm.


Minimum Wage represented a new indie age in comics. The classic comix of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s gave way to a new breed of auteur, one that was bold and daring yet not always as outrageous. Indie comics became less rebellious and more mainstream, more easily attainable, and as such, they mirrored other pop-culture artistic movements, like the birth of grunge rock or the (later to come) burgeoning of mumblecore in film.


What makes Minimum Wageso lovable (and readable) is its easygoing affability as it documents the New York City love affair of Rob and Sylvia, two twentysomethings trying to advance (or start) their careers while navigating the city.


Rob Hoffman is a thinly veiled pseudonym for Bob Fingerman, the writer and artist behind the story. Fingerman makes it clear that the story of Minimum Wage is only semiautobiographical. Much of the elements are based on truth and real-life events, but they’re not necessarily true in and of themselves. What istrue, however, is the capturing of the vast aesthetic of New York City in the early to mid-’90s, a unique time in the city’s history and one perfectly transported to and brought alive on the page.


Fingerman’s depictions of young men and women struggling to get ahead and to forge a path as adults is true to life as well. There’s plenty of sex (and nudity), but it’s certainly not graphic. It’s simply honest. So are the various storylines, like dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, falling in love and then doubting that love, meeting the friends and parents of those you date, and simply trying to figure out how you fit into all of this life you’ve begun to create.


Maximum Minimum Wageis packed with extras, so it’s a treasure trove for old fans and it’s a lovely adventure for new fans. Extras include an intro from Robert Kirkman (of Walking Dead fame), tons of pinups from a slew of creators, a cover gallery, behind-the-scenes glimpses from Fingerman, a working script of an issue that never came together, and much more. This is a worthy tribute to a classic ’90s comics, and if there’s any justice, it will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Fingerman’s seminal work.


Reviewed by John Hogan on July 11, 2013

Maximum Minimum Wage
by Bob Fingerman

  • Publication Date: April 2, 2013
  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • ISBN-10: 1607066742
  • ISBN-13: 9781607066743