A Different Kind of Hunger Games

By Tim Sulka

The setting for the graphic novel, Prime Cuts, is the fictional subdivision of Pure Springs, USA. It’s a microcosm of a world gone bad – chewed, swallowed, digested and regurgitated – in a hurry. The culture of Pure Springs is much like our own, where consumerism has dominated and its people are the kind of folk that “have to have everything - now!” To make matters worse, there’s a world-wide meat shortage (mad cow disease or too much meat consumption?) and as Jimmy the Trucker tells Todd Sweeney, “Man’ll slash your throat to get the last bite of your kosher hotdog.” It’s rough out there! The landscape is barren and dead; most every hamburger joint has gone out of business, but let’s face it, the world is still hungry.

Founded on a plot of land where “nothing good ever grew,” the unscrupulous men who built Prime Cuts bought the land cheap (there must have been some awful massacre or plague on the land, it’s been abandoned for decades) and had a keen eye for giving people exactly what they wanted – at little cost to them. Enormous homes with bidets and swimming pools were built out of the cheapest materials and sold in a time when banks gave away money to anyone who wanted it, particularly those saps that didn’t really understand how a variable mortgage worked! Someday you might actually have to pay for the shit you buy, but in the meantime, indulge, enjoy, take out another home equity line of credit! The world has thrived on “buy now, pay later,” for centuries. The people of Pure Springs wanted. Wanted stuff. Wanted more. Wanted to have what they could never have before. Wanted to feel better and the only way to feel better is to have more. Wanted what they wanted without really working for it or even knowing what it was they wanted! All in the name of the “American Dream.”

Before too long, reality set in, the housing bubble burst and suburban developments like Pure Springs became ghost towns. Businesses and entire strip malls shut down save for the few barely hanging on – or at least still supplying what the good people of Pure Springs were looking to consume. But something else settled in to stay – maybe the aforementioned massacre or plague seeped into the psyche of the town – some kind of darkness that took hold of its citizens and brought about disaster.

Pure Springs’ promise of “bigger, better, more!” attracted not only the unsuspecting, but also the unscrupulous, who fed on the innocent and forced their demise via bogus real estate scams, mortgage manipulations and Ponzi schemes, (a con that goes back to the days of Charles Dickens, by the way). The decent folk who couldn’t hack it fled the town with their tail between their legs allowing the others to pull back the façade on the once picture perfect community and expose its ravenous hunger. Its founders were long gone, too, destined to be a future topic of TV shows like “American Greed” where their dastardly deeds of were finally exposed for entertainment value. Pure Springs thrived in its own way - crack houses and meth labs occupied abandoned, foreclosed properties. All that, combined with the nation’s meat shortage, only amplified the town’s desperation, forcing its people to scratch and claw by any means possible to satisfy the bottomless pit of emptiness.

By the time Todd Sweeney returns to Pure Springs, things have gone from bad to worse.  The local “barber” now deals drugs to soccer moms to ease their pain and his own; the single pizza parlor is forced to serve dog food on its pizza in the guise of meat or face the wrath of local gangbangers whose sustenance consists of drugs, alcohol and the daily dose of shitty pizza. After all the drugs, pizza and anything else there is to consume in Pure Springs runs out, what will humans turn to next?

There’s not much left to welcome Todd Sweeney to his hometown. And what of his own intentions? It’s still unclear whether someone like Todd Sweeney might be just the right person to restore the purity in Pure Springs.

Copyright 2013 Laddsville Entertainment