White Noir #1
Story: Matt Garvey
Publisher: Lab Rat Comics
Review by Malcolm Derikx
White Noir is an indie comic, a crime story paying homage to the bleak and snowy landscape of Fargo with unique visuals and a gritty story.
Our story starts with a John Doe, waking up in a snowy ditch after his car has a head-on collision with a deer. Suffering a head wound, he stumbles into the town of Essex Peak in the middle of a horrible blizzard. The townsfolk attend to him- but things get complicated when the local Sheriff learns of a secret hidden in the trunk of Doe’s car. Most of this first issue seems to be about building the pieces to an assuredly violent puzzle, and while we’ve only got a snippet of the main characters thus far, a few of them seem particularly interesting. My favorite was the Sheriff and Skip, the owner of the local bar where our John Doe stumbles into- it’s clear the two have a shared and frosty history, and I’m interested to see how that will develop.
Unfortunately, the lettering within the comic is pretty tiny, and a few pages suffer from absence of caption bubbles. Occasionally this means bits of text end up buried in the panel, and I had to backtrack a bit to make sure I caught every caption. It’s an unfortunate hiccup, because the writing is pretty solid for the most part. It’s something the duo should definitely fix if they want to reprint the book, but it doesn’t ruin the experience entirely.
Art-wise, Dizevez has a tendency to swing back and forth. First the good; some pages, such as John Doe’s entry into Essex Peak, are gorgeous. The cover is also a totally rad image, and had me eager to check out the contents. The colors are very strong and are well thought out throughout the comic. When the Sheriff enters the bar for example, he’s positioned himself underneath a bright light for his interviews, placing himself in opposition to the other patrons who huddle in the blue-red shadows. It’s a very cool effect, and very evocative of the genre. Unfortunately, it seems like Dizevez is using poser figures, putting some paint-filters over top. That’s nothing I object to on its own- I’m actually fond of a few comics that have used 3D models, such as The Dreamland Chronicles. When it works, it works, but when it doesn’t the characters can appear stiff, weightless, and awkward. Some pages of White Noir suffer from this.
Being noir, a genre traditionally populated by square-jawed detectives and macho gangsters, I do have to note that the story doesn’t contain many prominent female characters as of yet. I mean, with such influence from Fargo, you don’t have to look farther than Marge Gunderson for inspiration. I hope this will change in future issues and we get to see more of Skip’s daughter for instance, in roles that don’t just support the male cast.
Check it out! White Noir was a quick read, and while there was a few spots I’d change, I’m excited to see the next issue. A lot of indie comics try to do a billion different things and end up being muddled but White Noir is a slick little story, that feels almost like it could be a movie script. If you like crime comics keep your eye on it to see how it develops!