Review – Two Redheads & A Dead Blonde: A Ronan Marino Mystery

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Sky Cop Studios
Writer: Lloyd L Corricelli
Artist: Alex Cormack
Release Date: Issue #5 on sale 28th October, 2015

This is a great little find, and the beginning of an ongoing series. Firmly stylised as Film Noir we follow the adventures of Ronan Marino, formally a Special Investigator for the US Marines and now working as a PI after becoming a winner of the California Lottery.

When we meet Ronan he’s at a crossing point in his life. His girlfriend has recently died – ruled a suicide – and he’s having a hard time dealing with it. He takes on work to occupy his mind, while at the same time makes the decision to investigate the suicide of his girlfriend, as he believes that it wasn’t at all what it seemed. Ronan has feet on either side of the law, his brother is the police, his uncle in the mob, leaving Ronan to walk the line between the two; a benefit in his chosen line of work.

Corricelli’s writing is quite skilled in his approach to Ronan, a lot of comics suffer when 75% of the writing is internal dialogue as the lack of character interaction eventually puts the reader off, or bores them with too many details. Too often the reader feels that the story is being explained to them and it’s unsatisfactory. However, in this story the inner dialogue is more like an extension of the artwork. Using the style Noir style, Ronan’s thought processes seems more like an extra dimension of storytelling, rather than a method of filling in any blank spaces the plot may have thrown up. At first I thought this might put me off (this is a 140 page beast), but in fact it had the opposite effect. By the end I was rushing through the panels to get to the end, I had to force myself to slow down, to read and absorb. In my opinion, if writing has that effect on me: I’m enjoying myself.

This is a partnership event, and as much as I can praise Corricelli’s script I have talk about Cormack’s art. Another project that Cormack works on (Oxymoron) had been generating a bit of a buzz at BCP headquarters so I was expecting to be impressed, and I was not disappointed. The entire comic is in ink – apart from the cover there is no colour work whatsoever. Being a short press this may be a budgetary decision, but I’d like to think it was to add to the Film Noir theme of the comic. Whatever the reason was, the inkwork is stunning.

There is an almost surgical precision to the carefully drawn lines, and this really does look like a labour of love. I struggle to describe it technically, the best way I’ve come up with is to say it’s like inverted artwork, and it must have been a bitch to complete. Some panels look like they started life as a large blacked out rectangle, and Cormack has taken a Stanley Knife to it, so scrape away ink to reveal shapes – rainfall, car outlines, faces, architecture, it’s basically fucking incredible. It’s also really had to express literally. Hopefully you get some idea from what I’ve said, but to really appreciate it you’ll need to feast your eyes on the pages, and this feast is a Michelin Star 5 course banquet.

Two Redheads and a Dead Blonde is a good story, a very good story. The protagonist is a fun, slightly cynical character, well fleshed out and has an amusing habit of comparing his life as a PI to The Dark Knights. The plot itself is an excellent whodunit with enough twists and turns to leave you guessing, right up until the end reveal. It’s the first in a series of ‘Ronan Marino Mysteries,’ and is a solid Launchpad to what I think could be a great series of comics.

Rating: 4/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

You can purchase individual issues of Two Redheads & A Mystery Blonde via ComiXology.

The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

1 Comment on Review – Two Redheads & A Dead Blonde: A Ronan Marino Mystery

  1. Andrew,

    Alex and I are thrilled that you enjoyed the book. I wanted to let readers know that beside Comixology, the entire book can be purchased at Amazon in trade and for the Kindle. The trade will also be released by Comixology at some future date (I’m waiting for the notification from them).

    We’re talking about doing the next book in the series “Chasing Curves” but we’ll need this book to break out before we do…or find a bigger publisher that wants to take it on.

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