I’ll start this one off by simply reiterating what many others have said about this comic- damn, it’s nice to read a comic intended for my laptop screen. Each issue of The Private Eye feels intuitively designed, and lovely in a manner that most other digital comics never come close to. I never have to zoom in to read text, and I get to appreciate the flow from panel to panel the way the comic gods intended. Add to that the fact Brian K. Vaughn, Marcos Martin and Munsta Vincente’s The Private Eye continues to be a riveting speculative thriller, and it’s easy to see how this pay-what-you-will experiment has succeeded as well as it has, even leading the creators’ distribution company Panel Syndicate to take on distribution of another original series, Universe. This penultimate issue starts with a beautiful one-page panel of an adorned casket belonging to P.I.’s mother. In attendance at her funeral are all manner of masked groups, in addition to a pre-adolescent P.I and his slightly younger hipster grandfather. At the funeral’s close, we get both P.I.’s first interaction with a dude he first assumes to be his father, but turns out to be his first run-in with a paparazzi, foreshadowing his own future illicit career. When the comic returns to the present, we find PI and Raveena at LA’s Wonderwall, the man-made structure created to ward off the encroaching Pacific Ocean, where they hope to find Mel and stop teevee exec and criminal mastermind Daguerre from restarting the internet by launching a satellite into space.
The fact that I can remember where things are in the story despite the helter skelter release schedule of The Private Eye bodes well for how memorable its premise is and how invested I am in the lives of PI, Raveena, Mel and PI’s Zune-hating grandfather. What I find curious in this regard is that The Private Eye rarely slows down for characters to reflect and explicitly state their feelings, yet most of the time Vaughn, Martin and Vincente work in sync through dialogue, facial expressions, and color respectively to key us into character’s moods. One panel that sticks out particularly in this regard features PI’s grandfather silhouetted against a yellow background as he states, “Just promise you won’t let anything happen to my boy.” Typically reserved and self-involved, through this panel’s lighting we get a sense of foreboding around P.I.’s fate while the dialogue functions as a momentary glimpse into the loving grandfather he is and the background’s yellow color contrast it with the other panels’ cool blues. It’s a subtle moment where all the elements of a comic inform one another gracefully.
I’m really fond of The Private Eye for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they printed two of my letters, and I’m glad that Vaughn and co.’s risk has paid off. As a reader, The Private Eye assures me that even if someday print comics cease to exists in the numbers they do that digital comics can be done in a manner that fully engages readers. With one issue remaining of The Private Eye, I’m excited to see how things wrap up for P.I. Ending with a rocket launch is a hell of a cliffhanger, and whether P.I. makes it out is uncertain. Whatever his fate might be, I’m adding his dreamcoat to my letter to santa.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Marcos Martin Colorist: Muntsa Vincente Publisher: Panel Syndicate Price: Pay What You Want Website