Story: Ryan K Lindsay
Art: Sami Kivela
Colors: Mark Dale
Release Date: May 18th, 2016
Ryan K Lyndsay’s Chum is a mouth-watering prospect. A writer that has proven himself to be a skilled proponent of the human condition (read Negative Space – and that’s an instruction, not a suggestion) working on a crime noir story? What a salivating prospect.
The story revolves around a troika of characters on the small Island of Kingsford, a surfer’s paradise. Summer, a native of the Island who feels trapped in the bar she works; her soon to be ex-husband Standard, the local detective; and finally Penny, the local crime boss with a reputation of feeding those who cross him to the sharks.
Stripped down, the story centres on Summer. Through circumstances I will not spoil, a bag of money comes into her possession, and with it the opportunity to leave the Island and the life she loathes. Of course, the bag belongs to Penny who left it in the possession of one of his subordinates. He is eager to see it returned. Standard, investigating Penny, is also looking for the missing courier. The clincher? Standard and Summer are at the end of a divorce, and Summer just happens to be sleeping with Penny.
Rounding out the cast is a couple of secondary characters: Gus, a surfer who carries a torch for Summer and discovers the bag of money with her; and finally a female reporter who is investigating the missing courier, and seems to be attracted to Standard.
Therein lies the beauty of this title; noir fiction is short, sharp, and information hefty. The delivery is not subtle, it’s very in your face and there is a lot of information communicated in every panel through speech bubbles. Yet, rather than feeling cumbersome, it’s actually an exciting read. It’s like the story is a fast moving vehicle and you are along for the ride, sitting back and taking everything in. I wouldn’t exactly call it economical writing, but every panel is essential to the story, there isn’t really room for any padding or fluff. It’s probably this very reason that makes the read so thrilling.
The art by Sami Kivela is deceptively good. The linework is heavy and defined, which perhaps serves to bolster the solidity of the story, but the panelling is incredibly detailed, something you may not expect with such thick lines. There are a few stand out moments, the fight between Gus and Sammy (Penny’s courier) being one of them, and there are a couple of great transitions. Sharks to soup is all I’m saying. Sami also shows great skill in capturing the moment in a characters face, and there are several fantastic illustrations of this throughout this first issue. I also have to give props to Mark Dale on colours. The pallet chosen is so fitting to the story, and the use of red hues throughout mirror both the heat of a tropical climate, and the bloody nature of some of the encounters. This comic is an all-round tight and effective machine.
Chum is a delightful find. It’s a short run – three issues only – and it’s a testament to the quality of Ryan’s work that by the end of this first issue you are already fully invested in the story. The character tropes may be slightly standard for this style of narrative, but that in no way makes this less interesting. Also, knowing the writer’s previous work, you can be rest assured that these characters may well end up no-where near standard by the conclusion of this tale.
As a short run, Chum is not going to leave you out of pocket. It’s a small investment for what looks to be an utterly captivating noir yarn, and you could do a hell of lot worse than checking this title out. Ryan displayed a knack for upping his game with each new issue of his last mini-series, and there is no reason to think that trend will not continue here with Chum.
The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.