The comic book industry is generally dominated by major companies. Marvel and DC have the ability to advertise their books in every area of the media, giving them the lion’s share of the market. Marvel and DC, however, aren’t the only comic book companies out there. And they are definitely not the only companies producing great work. I find an independent comic series or graphic novel once a week that blows me away, that has that right combination of compelling, funny, and/or interesting story and strong expressive art that just deserves to be talked about by the whole comic community. These are the kinds of books that make me say to myself . . .
Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder
Every now and then I find myself reading a comic book or graphic novel that takes something I love, something familiar to me, and a twist or tweak I never really thought of and melds the three together into a clusterf— of awesome.
Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder is one such graphic novel.
Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder takes science fiction, pulp/noir, and pop art and creates a reality that is familiar yet new, dangerously intoxicating, and overall fun to indulge in.
Vic Boone, our kind and gentle protagonist (note my sarcasm), is a private investigator plying his trade in a futuristic version of Portland, Oregon. He’s hard-nosed, has possibly more cons than pros, and is not opposed to taking a punch to dole out one himself.
Oh – and he used to be a daredevil. The Evil Knievel kind. Jumping buses and things of that nature.
It’s those kinds of tweaks and twists, instituted by Boone creator/writer Shawn Aldridge, that take the basic noir P.I. concept and kicks it in the rump. The classic pulp/noir P.I. is reckless – but Vic is RECKLESS. Vic Boone has all of the attitude and edge we’ve come to expect from noir anti-heroes with a splash of Captain Kirk and John McClane. The world that he inhabits – a version of Portland that looks and feels like an episode of The Outer Limits – is equally as reckless as Vic himself. In just the primary story of the Malfunction Murder graphic novel alone (named, aptly enough, “Malfunction Murder”) we see a man who is now a fly with a human head who just happens to be an informant, robots, freaky aliens, a street gang inspired by raygun-toting aliens akin to those from Plan 9 From Outer Space, a Pam Grier-esque jive-talking ex-girlfriend, a mad robot scientist, and a serum that turns a man into a humanoid gorilla for a short span of time. And as random and all-over-the-place as all of the aforementioned elements sound it actually works. All of these crazy elements seem to fit perfectly within this insane future Portland that Aldridge has created.
The actual primary story itself is classic pulp/noir at its core: P.I. is hired by wealthy socialite who is being framed for murder, P.I. sleeps with wealthy socialite, P.I. wakes up the next morning in a mess of trouble and has to beat the clock to prove his innocence. These are standard tropes of the pulp/noir style and they begin to play out as such. But then Shawn Aldridge begins adding in the weird elements – mad scientists, fly informants, and the like – and those standard tropes become fresh, action-laden, and darkly humorous.
Accompanying the balls-to-the-wall storytelling of Shawn Aldrigde are the pop art-inspired panels of Geoffo. Geoffo’s art comes off as a combination of Darwyn Cooke and a 1950′s advertising campaign. There’s such a loose yet solid look and feel to the way he renders the characters and settings of Future Portland that it pulls your eyes along for the ride. Geoffo’s use of shadows to do everything from creating tension to muscle definition, his light-to-thick line strokes, his ability to convey emotion and tension through angular paneling: it is truly the perfect compliment to the action and quirky narrative that is Malfunction Murder. Paired with Geoffo’s art is a mod-style color palette laid down by series creator Aldridge that really sends the pulp/noir feel of the tale into an area of pop art that creates quite the unique private dick experience.
If you are a fan of hard-boiled crime comics but want something different from the genre Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder is the ticket. If you are just looking to try something different from every other pulp/noir comic on the market today Malfunction Murder is also your ticket. It’s gritty,pulpy, sci-fi tinged fun that doesn’t insult the audience, doesn’t take itself to seriously, and delivers entertainment in spades. On top of that, Malfunction Murder is backed up by a series of Vic Boone shorts written by Shawn Aldridge and drawn by various artists, giving you over 100 pages of noir goodness!
So . . . why aren’t you reading this?!
To grab a copy of Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder go here:
To delve into the mind of Vic Boone creator Shawn Aldridge go to: