Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Art: Sami Kivelä
Colors: Mark Dale
Letterer: Nic J. Shaw
Editor: Dan Hill
When you have a story with sex, murder, mystery, and a bag full of drug money, what could be better? In this case, if the backdrop is an island surf town.
Chum #1 by writer, Ryan K. Lindsay (Negative Space), and artist, Sami Kivelä (Dark Lies), is a self-dubbed “surf noir”. This is the perfect way, in two words, to let readers know what they are about to encounter. But here is a quick break down of the characters, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
We find ourselves on Kingsford Island, where Summer, a local girl, runs a beachside bar and grill. She is “involved” with Penny, a local drug dealer, that has a bite meaner than his laid-back surf-bum appearance. There is Standard, Summer’s soon to be ex-husband that is a local detective that finds himself investigating a crime she is involved in. And then there is Gus. A surfer that pines for the love of Summer, and is willing to shed a little blood for her if necessary.
This is a character driven book that, by page 5, is turned up to 11. It is ballsy, and unapologetic with its break necked pace of laying out an in your face story. With a 3 issue series, like Chum, that is A-OK, with me.
Lindsay writes a crisp script that creates a world within the first few pages that is as deep and rich as the water surrounding Kingsford. His dialogue, and especially the narration, is pulp as anything you would want in a noir. It builds a perfect tone for the dark and ominous nature of the story. The characters are quickly established, and we move on without getting hung up in unnecessary or over expository pandering. Lindsay smartly weaves the characters stories together, so we get a lot of bang for our buck when it comes to developing textured characters. Summer’s place is the center of the first issue, and it makes the interaction of everyone seem natural, and not forced.
There are many great comic book writers that words fall flat on their face, because the art doesn’t translate on the page. This is not the case with Chum in the slightest. Lindsay sets them up, and Kivelä knocks them down with authority. The art is killer. The setting is realized in a way that makes you feel like you have been there before. Every panel is interesting, which makes you stop, and really look at each panel. You won’t want to skim through Chum. Each panel carries the weight of a thousand word think-piece. The different angles, the detail, the simplicity when needed. Kivelä makes Lindsay’s words sing.
And bringing this together in true noir form are the colors. You can write the words. You can draw the panels. But a noir is only as good as its color scheme. Right off the bat, Mark Dale set the mood with the storm on the horizon. He established separation and loneliness with the choice of blank backdrops with Gus. He grabbed the reader with bright, yet somewhat depressing colors, making Kingsford Island a hellish paradise. Without great blacks, and color pops you have a really good book, and not a great one.
Chum #1 was a great read, fun to look at, and one of the best comics I have read in 2016. ComixTribe has something special with this team of creators, and I can’t wait for issue 2 to come out in June.
I didn’t know what to expect from a “surf noir” comic book, but I got it in spades with Chum #1. Let’s all hope this mondo wave keeps its steam.
Jonathan Winchester is a writer from Dallas, TX where he lives with his wife Maddie and their annoying cat. He believes Han was the lone shooter, that nothing looks better than a silver age comic in Mylar, and that there is no better feeling than walking into a dimly lit movie theater.