"The Long Con #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Oni Press
Written by Dylan Meconis and Ben Coleman
Illustrated by EA Denich
Colored by M. Victoria Robado
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 25th, 2018
Some conventions only feel like they go on forever, but the Long Con really does. It was already the world's biggest and longest convention, but it held on to that title after a cataclysmic event destroyed everything within a 50 mile radius. Reporter Victor Lai was at the convention and escaped just before everything hit the fan. Now, five years later, he's got a lead that the attendees might still be alive in there, so he heads into the quarantine zone to investigate. What could go wrong?
The Long Con is a dystopian tale with a sense of humor. That is prominently on display from the very first page. Writers Dylan Meconis and Ben Coleman lean into the comedy, but never forget the post-apocalyptic setting. The opening pages immediately set the tone of the series, letting you know what you're getting yourself into as a pair of soldiers playing cards are interrupted by a bug monster. They quickly shoot it to Hell only to find that it was a guy in a costume. Whoops.
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This costumed individual, who we later learn is dressed as a “mantoid”, pops up a couple times throughout this debut issue in flashbacks. This is a great touch, as he's painted as an oblivious idiot, so we don't feel sorry for him now that we know his fate.
EA Denich's artwork matches up to this perfectly. The characters are just a bit over-expressive, but not to cartoonish levels, which heightens every comedic beat. For example, when Victor makes his way back to the convention, he takes a fall and lands awkwardly. He's mouth pops out and scrunches up in this weird look of pain and embarrassment that makes the tough fall look more silly than painful.
This is amplified by Aditya Bidikar's letters. Victor lets out this scream when he falls, with a spiky word balloon that stretches down with him. There's another shot later on where Victor is a little groggy. Someone is speaking to him, but he can't understand them at first, so the words are fuzzy, like scratches on the page. This was a really great effect that I don't see used too often.
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Since we bounce back and forth between the past and the present, Denich and colorist M. Victoria Robado create this solid juxtaposition. Five years ago there's this bustling convention with bright colors and happy people. Fast forward to today and it's like the entire building got too close to a fire and melted. It's dark, gritty, and covered in dirt.
Victor has this near permanent scowl, like he's too good for all of this. This is true for both the scenes in the past and those in the present. He's full of excuses for why he hasn't done things and he seems tired of people questioning or calling him out on that. This journey could be a way of finally standing up for himself.
I do admire the fact that the con attendees aren't just wearing alternate versions of popular comic characters. It's all too easy to populate a big nerdy crowd like this with weirdly colored Spider-Mans and Batmans. Instead, everyone is unique and original.
The Long Con hits on all the right marks. It pokes fun at nerd culture without disrespecting it, which is a tough line to walk. Everything comes together well to present a solid story packed with humor and a great premise. I have to know what happened at this convention now and how Victor possibly made it out alive.