Review – Deadbeat

Writer: Jed McPherson
Artist: Chris Shehan

Sometimes stories aren’t grand spectacles that span 500-odd issues before they actually get to a point. Sometimes they’re stand-alone sagas that hit hard and fast and leave you with a melancholic smile on your face.  Sometimes they’re like Deadbeat, a brand new neo-noir series from writer Jed McPherson and artist Chris Shehan, which was launched at Thought Bubble last year.

The narrative follows a tale of a deadbeat dad as he attempts to do right by his daughter. What makes it really unique is how it follows the same method used in Tarantino-type films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs where it jumps back and forth between now, 20 years ago and the few days that led up to the present day. It’s always a risky approach, narratively speaking, because you first have to ensure that all the storyline plates spin at a steady rate, and then manage to have them all connect up at the end to form the big picture. Thankfully, Deadbeat aces the job.

We’re introduced to a character who’s obviously a bit of a dick, but that’s something he has grown to accept over the years and, at the end of the day, he still loves his daughter regardless. So when she and her hot-headed boyfriend come to him for help on a robbery job, of course he lends her a hand to stop them from doing something stupid. The subsequent story leading up to the job, and what happens after, all go further in painting that unsympathetic picture of a true deadbeat dad, soon to be in every sense of the word.

The characters work in Deadbeat because they’re not your average hard-boiled detective or hero on a quest. Each acts in their own selfish and genuinely human way which only helps the reader to connect with them more. By the end of the story something truly beautiful happens, but the crafting of the back story and relationship between father and daughter only make it more powerful within the context of this story.

The artwork is also spot on. Black and white hard lines with dusty greys to match the desert setting of the arse-end of America. It happens to be a favourite style of mine, but it just flat-out works with stories like these. Heck, the characters could have come from a Sean Murphy book like Punk Rock Jesus with their square, heavy-browed and slightly menacing look contrasted by softer, less shaded youthful characters. It works well in that it emphasises the age of the characters and matches the gritty feel of the story while highlighting the difference between 20 years ago and the present day.

Honestly, I genuinely can’t find anything to fault in this one, and can’t wait to see more from these dudes in the future. Overall, Deadbeat is a hard as nails one-shot with plenty of heart poking through the bullet holes. Highest of recommendations.

Rating: 5/5.

You can grab yourself a copy of Deadbeat from Jed’s Gumroad by CLICKING HERE.

The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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