The theme is noir. It's thick, rich, and heavy. It's noir to the core. You feel it, see it, and hear it. Never have I read something that hits so perfectly what it was going for. At first I thought this was multiple stories illustrated by the same person which had me all too impressed considering how differently each tale appeared. Unfortunately I was wrong but it was impressive none the less especially considering how well each story captured a different aspect of noir all the while looking so different and unique than the one(s) before it. I was also blown away by how varied each chronicle was in narrative as it was visually.
The first story, Zig Zag, is written by ANDREZ BERGEN and illustrated by DREZZ RODRIGUEZ. This one reads like a book with relative images to the right of the narration. It was a magnificent description of a man cleaning an antique gun that leads to what could be a hit or murder. The use of black, white, and empty are strong, powerful, intense images. The last one being the best and strongest of them all. It was a great and brilliant build to a fantastic cliffhanger.
"Get Busy" from ANDREZ BERGEN and MARCOS VERGARA was my least favorite content of it all but it was interesting nonetheless. It's obvious the art tells most of the story as there is only a few lines of dialogue. The setting is a busy bar. The main character appears to be a skinny, old, sullen bar tender viewing the commotion and some of the odd ongoings of a few of the bar attendees. The bit is a little too odd for me as the people look like caricatures and it was unclear to me what this one was actually about.
Linoleum Actress by MICHAEL GRILLS & ANDREZ BERGEN may be the greatest display of ugly and beautiful I've ever seen in a comic. There is so much depth and detail to the characters, art, and narrative that it's astounding. It was so cinematic and artistically well done I truly felt like I was transported to viewing of a noir film. The woman in this is sexy, sultry yet piercing and devious. The crippled, rough, grizzly, aged man narrates as the tight satin dressed woman teases him. It appears to be a game to them especially her. This one is definitely worth multiple read throughs and rereads. I never knew how expressive black, white, the absence of color, and use of empty space could be until I experienced this piece.
The Writing On The Wall comes off as more of a spaghetti western. The story is done by ANDREZ BERGEN whereas the artwork is by NATHAN ST JOHN. Oddly enough the art style looks like that of a rainy day in 'Nam. A couple is spray painting a giant wall when some law dog shows up. This is where things start to seem like the Wild West and even more so at the end. The art is unlike anything I've ever seen. I don't even know how I would begin to describe it. You truly need to see it for yourself. Art is objective so make up your own mind once you check it out.
If there's any kind of theme in this besides the obvious the other has to be confusion and depression. ANDREZ BERGEN does both the story & images in this short story called WAITING FOR SOD ALL. The woman narrating the story is sick, sad, ill, unhappy, downright depressed and yet she is beautiful, gorgeous even. A real classic beauty like they use to look in the old movies. Her marriage is a sham. She's miserable but afraid. I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with her or what happened in the end but it was definitely interesting. The art almost appears to be spray painted black and white but it's obviously too detailed, accurate, and clear for that. Each panel and page seems to contain the same amount of black and white, none overpowering the other.
The last story is more of a semi-realistic cartoon look and feel. It's literally only one page but it's very clear what's going on here. It's a classic noir damsel in distress rescue. The light overpowers the dark in this quick, enjoyable, fun, juicy tidbit. COME OUT SWINGING story by ANDREZ BERGEN, art by ANDREW CHIU.
There's no doubt that if you're into noir this is totally for you. If you're like me though and you're kind of new to the genre then this is a great step in the right direction. I won't deny that I was floored by some stories while others left me hanging. For a $1 though there's no way you can beat that. I don't know how many times I've read this anthology and I find something new and interesting every time I read it. There's so much depth and content here you'd be a fool to turn down a deal like this. The pros entirely outweigh the cons so spend the dollar because I assure you, you won't regret it.
Verdict: STRONG BUY
In case you're interested, new indie Melbourne-based IF? Commix has the finished, print-ready version of our anthology "BLACK/WHITE", which will be published in Australia on April 1st, but is also available from this week online as a pre-order digital download for just $1 (see http://iffybizness.weebly.com/ill-buy-that-for-1.html
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