Written by Jed McPherson.
Art by Chris Shehan.
(Lettering and Editing are uncredited).
20 pages – Black & White – £3.50
US Comics Size.
The Story – ‘Mikey is a f*@k up, always has been. But when his estranged daughter, Laurie, gets back in touch after twenty years of f*@k all he thinks he’s got a second chance. But Laurie doesn’t need a dad she just wants a getaway driver.’
The above story summary is taken from the writer’s GumRoad page and contains more gumption than this mess of a story.
The Cover – I have what I’m guessing is a reprint of the comic as it mentions being a ‘Finalist – Ghost City Comics Competition 2017’. My copy also has four lines in a silver marker pen that I’m guessing is the autograph of one of the creators? They were clearly too busy to actually sign it with any effort.
It is a simple image against a red background and is in fact a wraparound cover. It is not very eye-catching and a little dull. Not something that would encourage you to grab it from a shelf or a convention table.
The Review – This is a black and white one-shot noir comic. It involves violent crime (although the violence is rarely shown), father/daughter relationships and has a couple of twists in the tale. At only twenty pages it is rather short. This affects the veracity of the character development which the twist rather depends upon. You can feel the influence of Phillips and Brubaker on the style but it fails to deliver on anything like their masterful level of storytelling. It seemingly adopts a decompressed style in the pages but suffers as it’s so short.
The art is competent and manages to capture a certain noir vibe but fails to show any energy. This may be because of a number of missteps in the pacing and scripting process. I’ll try and elaborate. The story is laid out in chapters and jumps between two (?) times in the life of Mikey. Page 1 ‘The World Ends With Us’ (a misjudged opening title if there ever was one) is just plain dull. The two tops panels show the silhouette of a plane taking off, panel 3 a man swearing ‘Oh Fuck’ and panel 4 shows a blob as a voice declares ‘I think that’s my plane.’ This is actually a gunshot wound. It neither looks like one or is representative of one and had me scratching my head.
We also see a series of time jumps that involve the relationship between Mikey and his daughter. In such a short comic these need to be shown as happening with some clarity. Mikey himself barely changes in appearance and we are meant to believe that the jump is of over ten years (I’m guessing). The backwards and forwards nature of this narrative choice keep taking the reader out of the story while they try and work out where and when everything is happening.
There are also two pivotal moments in the comic where someone is shot. One on page 10 and one on page 16. Neither is shown and both are implicated with the use of an out of panel incident. Why would you do that in a visual medium like comics and especially in a book that otherwise is pretty darn drab and without action. This is a book about armed robberies and the folks who commit them. The only person you see actually firing a gun is a female victim. I’m still uncertain what message the creators are sending with this dynamic. The same goes for a ‘fight’ we see on page 14. It is barely shown and lacks both motion and emotion. It is dry and stiff and boring.
There is a twist at the end that is pretty predictable and hollow.
You also get four pages of process which feels a little extreme for a twenty page comic. But that’s just my opinion.
Shehan feels like a good choice for this sort of story and evokes the mood of the piece but needs to be let free to show some actual action in this story of violent people. He uses tones in the backgrounds and has a scratchy and heavy ink line that should make this work.
You can visit the site and buy a copy here.
Many thanks for reading.