A book with the word "Blues" in the title sets a mood. I get a sad feeling from the word. Unfortunately that’s the same feeling I got after reading this comic. Freelance Blues is the newest title from independent publisher Alterna Comics. I admit I wasn’t familiar with the publishing imprint before I read this book but any place that gives indie writers and artists a platform is a friend of mine. The best piece of artwork in this book is the cover. Cover artist Michael De Mundo uses right splashes of eerie greens and smoky shadows. This is the only glimpse color we get during the issue.
Because I’ve read a lot of indie books I know that more often than not black and white artwork is a budgetary choice more than it is a creative one. In this story the artwork looks very amateurish and unfinished. From start to finish the drawings look like they belong in a comic strip where quality isn’t as a large a factor. There is clearly potential here in artist Vicki Tierney. Each character has a very expressive face when speaking. Unfortunately the background characters are not given that level of detail.
The credit of writer is split between two: Ian Daffern and Mike Leone. On a positive note the concept here is fun. Lance, a young man is struggling to find steady employment in a number of temp jobs. What stops him from doing so is the strange appearances of vicious monsters. Lucky for Lance he’s prepared to fight these monsters with abilities that are not entirely explained. He seems to be a monster hunter... a freelance monster hunter. I did have a little fun during Lance’s first job as a telemarketer. Who can’t relate to having a mundane job at some point in their lives? The fun dwindles we are taken through a day in this mundane life call after call after pointless and unfunny call. It wasn’t even shown in real time and still the day felt like it went on too long. Scenes where Lance is going through banter with friend/co-worker Leon seem to drag for far too long. The dialogue is really cliché here making the scene feel unnecessary.
Speaking of dialogue, the lettering in this book was simply sloppy. This is another instance where creativity comes into play. Some writers prefer to hand-letter their books instead of digitally and I’m all for that when it is done carefully. Some of the dialogue was not even legible. Speech bubbles are filled with awkwardly aligned text through the entire book.
Monsters do show up several times in the book. Although the designs aren’t entirely original it is through the creature scenes that the art is at its best. I only wish more pages were dedicated to action scenes rather than the work scenes. I can’t help but notice plot holes in the action such as a group of men in intimidating suits that show up to Lance’ second job and are never seen again. A mysterious tape of no particular origin is handed to Lance and never hinted again. These breaks in the main story seem to distract rather than contribute. The cliffhanger is another point of confusion. It seems to come from nowhere and barely references anything previously seen in the book.
For any comic book creator a first issue is a make or break time period. Every page has to be used to push the story forward and leave the reader wanting more. I’m not sure what level these writers and artist are at in their careers but the fact that the comic was composed in a fairly decent structure is an achievement. It’s the flaws in both the dialogue and artwork that make this achievement invisible. Out of the outpour of recent indie titles this one just does not stand out.
Freelance Blues #1 Writer: Ian Daffern and Mike Leone Artist: Vicki Tierney Publisher: Alterna Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 2/17/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital