"Chum #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by ComixTribe
Written by Ryan K. Lindsay
Illustrated by Sami Kivela
Colored by Mark Dale
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 18th, 2016
There is nothing quite like a good noir tale from the likes of Casablanca and Double Indemnity down to the seediest pulp novel. They all just ooze a certain level of cool. This is what is immediately apparent in Chum. This small piece of land is home to some gangsters, a washed-up cop, and a waitress who's about to get in over her head.
Chum wastes no time getting into the thick of things. This is a three-issue mini-series, so after some brief and incredibly well-written character introductions, we get right to it. Writer Ryan K. Lindsay captures that sweet pulpy feeling with these first few panels. Summer the waitress' introduction says, “She was that perfect wave you'd wait all day for.” If that doesn't sum up the term “beach noir,” I don't know what does.
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The concept of beach noir is an interesting one, as it has to balance the grim bleakness of a grim-and-gritty story in such a sunny setting. This is aided in Mark Dale's colors that have a vibrant quality to them while also able to bring down the doom and gloom when necessary. The opening pages take place during a storm with dark clouds in the sky and a haze hanging over the beach. This is a stark contrast to the bright red hair of Summer. She personifies life itself, a breath of fresh air on this otherwise rundown island.
Summer is an intriguing character from the get-go. She grew up on this island and everything and everyone around her seems to be pulling her down so she can barely breathe. She longs to get away and she's willing to do just about anything to do so If that means that some lying, cheating, and stealing get done, so be it. Summer is presented with an opportunity when a bag of drugs and money comes into her possession.
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There's a great sequence after she finds it and Gus, the lovesick thug with blood-soaked hands who holds it in front of her. He smiles as he dreams of the life the two of them can have together with this loot, running away and starting over. The next page has Summer sticking her hand in the bag and saying, “Yes, this is what I want.” Of course, she wants the same thing that Gus wants...just without Gus. Hats off to artist Sami Kivela here, as Summer is nothing but cool, calm, and collected.
Speaking of Kivela, there's an amazing page earlier that shows how Gus' hands got so bloody. It's a mass of jagged panels as Gus wails away on this mobster. You can practically feel it as each punch lands. It's a brutal fight scene and one that is very effective.
Chum presents you with intriguing characters, an interesting setting, and a riveting plot. These folks have been living in what passes for harmony in what should be paradise. Now it's all about to spiral out of control despite some best laid yet hastily made plans. This is dark. This is cool. This is just so damn good.