Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Narcoleptic Sunday: I think I've had a few of those

Warning: One of the images below has some nudity, so watch out when you're reading it at work or around kids or your grandmother or whatever. Should I put a big NSFW here?

Narcoleptic Sunday
Written by Jeremy Haun
Art by Brian Koschak

Try to think of a standard noir plot. It'll probably involve a femme fatale, some sort of conspiracy, a lost love, bad guys trying to kill the hero (who's probably in over his head), stuff like that. A noir story can take a lot of those elements and mix them together, maybe adding some unique ingredients, and if it's all put together right, it makes for a pretty entertaining story. Narcoleptic Sunday is kind of like that, a story about Jack, a narcoleptic guy who meets and falls in love with a girl only to see her killed for unknown reasons. He ends up thrown into a sleazy, violent world, and he's just trying to find out why she was murdered and survive the attacks from guys who seem to be gunning for him as well. It's fairly standard noir stuff, but it's put together pretty well, and it makes for an enjoyable read.

The chief element that stands out here is Brian Koschak's artwork. It's an interesting style, boldly defined yet somehow indistinct. The outlines around characters have a thick, sharp line, but sometimes the "inner" lines are thin and slightly difficult to make out, creating a slightly unsettling reading experience and adding the the "off" feeling of the story:

The art gets stronger as the book goes on; I especially like scenes that take place in the rain, with the raindrops interrupting the characters' outlines and really adding a feeling of "wetness":

Koschak also makes good use of varied panel borders, breaking the panels up into irregular shapes during scenes of violence, and creating beautiful full-page tableaux for sex scenes:

The violence is also quite striking, in good noir style. Koschak makes you feel the blows, lovingly detailing the blood and viscera. He also uses a nice effect whenever Jack falls asleep: a black panel or page with white "ripples" in one or two of the corners (see the above picture for an example). It's quite effective. All in all, a rather auspicious debut for a first-time artist (in print, anyway).

One thing that I noticed about the art is what Dirk Deppey or Christopher Butcher would call "fear of cock". While there is plenty of female nudity in the book, any frontal male nudity is carefully covered by limbs or objects in the frame. Jack even has a nude fight scene in which he manages to keep his penis hidden from the reader. Also, the main villain of the story is a transvestite strip club owner named Oleander White. He's rather flamboyant, with Divine-style painted-on eyebrows and skimpy cocktail dresses, but he doesn't bother to disguise his beard stubble or hairy chest. Or his bulging package:

He seems like a character calculated to induce discomfort in the (presumably heterosexual) reader, and probably the creators as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it is quite noticeable.

So while it's a pretty standard noir story with lots of action and violence, it's worth reading for the interesting artwork. I hope Brian Koschak gets to do more work soon.

This review was based on a complimentary copy from the publisher.

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