Posted on August 22, 2003
Atomic Diner's third title lacks the charm of In Dublin City and is without the finesse of Naked Lunch, but does offer a brash, ballsy appeal that should sate the between meals appetite of fans of hard-boiled detective fiction. Be prepared to pile on the weight, though - Freak Show is a thirty-five issue maxi series! (Hark! Does the death knell sound so early?)
Set in America during the 1950's, Freakshow #1 echoes elements of LA Confidential, but in it's urgency to deliver a complete story with its premiere issue, provides a purely surface reading experience, and ends before one settles to what semblance of a mid-section of story the thing offers. However, the scripting of Rob Curley is crisp, the pace fast, and the dialogue ugly.
Equally ugly is an artwork over-stylised in a bid to lend sophistication to an inappropriately cartoonish look. Panels of penciller Terry Kenny and inker Lisa Jackson at times are without clarity and without subtlety of expression due to lack of variety in the weight of inked line; but conversely, pages are attractive, utilising inventive layouts and competent compositional use of black areas.
Room for improvement then, but with a sound enough storytelling, a solid draughtsmanship and a sequential know-how already in evidence, there is reason to believe that, given time, Freak Show could develop into a satisfying series. One hopes the death knell will fade. (The fact, anyway, that it exists only in my pessimistic head suggests it may well just be a case of tinnitus. Hurrah!)
US size, 28 glossy pages, €3.75 / $2.95 - available from Atomic Diner, 2 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Email firstname.lastname@example.org