By Oliver Gerlach
Dark Beach is a crime story set in a future with no sun at all. It’s a neat hook that both fits very well with the genre trappings of the murder investigation and opens up for some clever and interesting world building. This is one of those proper crime noir comics that is full to bursting with a sense of place and atmosphere, and it’s an added bonus that the sci-fi concept behind it is such an enjoyable one.
The main plot focuses on a murder investigation, but by the end of the second issue, it’s clear that this is not really the focus of the story. As more is uncovered about the murder, it seems to be more inextricably tied into the worldbuilding, with mentions of “sun cultists” and an increasing focus on the larger question of what happened to the sun. It’s good, clever stuff, and I have very high hopes for both mysteries being resolved in interesting and satisfying ways.
More important to this book’s success, however, is the art. Dark Beach is drawn by Sebastian Piriz, a name that should be better known. This is exceptionally professional work; the storytelling is clear and engaging, and the occasional pages where Piriz breaks from his regular format to try something weird are all entirely successful, different without ever being jarring. Piriz is a very good artist, and major publishers would do well to keep an eye on him. His characters are all very believable, and emote beautifully.
Ray Jones’ colours raise Piriz’ art to another level, though. I’ve encountered some of Piriz’ other work, and while it’s always very good, Jones’ approach to colouring is what really lifts it in this case. Full of odd pinks and turquoizes, the colours bathe the world in a unique light that really sells both the noir aesthetics of the story and the artificial lighting of the world. The flat colours enable Piriz’ linework to really shine, providing no distraction at all from the details of his faces.
Overall, this is well worth a read. It’s got a good concept behind it, and the creative team execute it very well without a single weak link. I will certainly be keeping an eye on it in future, and look forward to one day being able to get my hands on a collected edition.
Dark Beach #1-2
Writers: Michael J. Ruiz-Unger, Tucker Tota
Artists: Sebastian Piriz
Colours: Ray Jones