The only downside of the Panel Syndicate’s The Private Eye is that I’m horrible about keeping up with it. I love the idea of a digital-only series that’s DRM-free, and is pay-what-you-can. I love all the parts of that. I’m just so, so incredibly bad at remembering that I’ve downloaded it and remembering to read it. Having said that, I just now got around to reading issue 6 of The Private Eye and holy heck did I love it. BKV, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente have managed to pull off this thing, where even though a dingus like me can forget to read an issue of their comic for three months, I can jump back in and still feel fulfilled by the issue. I have to play some catch up, obviously, but the art is gorgeous and BKV is good at doling out information exactly when you need it.
In this issue, the paparazzo and Raveena are both still on the hunt for Taj’s killer, and it takes them to the outer reaches of LA, to one of the more impressive landmarks I’ve seen in a comic. It’s also something that the widescreen format they work in is extremely well-suited for. Meanwhile, DeGuerre and his stooge are still working on DeGuerre’s rocket, and DeGuerre sends his French hitmen after Mel in the hospital.
One thing that jumped out at me in this issue is how the widescreen format both calls cinema to mind and shows the ways that comics are different. There’s a lot of splash pages or at least huge images in The Private Eye, and they stretch laterally instead of vertically like a print comic. A print splash works well for like, character reveals (“Oh, man, look, it’s CABLE!” cue a full body shot of Cable), and this widescreen format allows BKV and Martin to revel in the entirety of a scene instead of just one person’s body. Meanwhile, on the page after that, they might cut from medium shots to extreme close-ups on eyeballs. It’s a variety of scales, which is a technical feat that would take a film years to accomplish (looking at you, Tree of Life), and with this comic, it takes a couple months.
The other impressive part about this book is the way that it predicted itself. When it premiered, we were all relatively unconcerned about Internet privacy, at least beyond like, not letting people know the passwords for our banking websites. Then, in the last year, Edward Snowden came on the scene, and then we couldn’t trust our government not to watch everything we do, and then Heartbleed happened and we couldn’t trust our secure websites to be secure. The Internet is the Swiss cheese of security problems right now, and it seems like only a matter of time before things in this comic start showing up in our everyday life.
This comic is one that reads like it’s coming free and easy to the creative team, but on closer inspection, you can tell that they’re really trying. They’re not letting it slide just because they’re big names and this is a free, digital comic, they really give a shit about this book. It’s an awesome step, and even better, it’s an awesome story. If you’re not checking it out, you have literally no excuse. Seriously you guys, it’s free. Get it.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Marcos Martin Colorist: Muntsa Vicente Publisher: Panel Syndicate Price: Pay What You Want Format: Limited Series, Digital Website