Artist(s): Joe Pimienta, Lindsay Hornsby, and Lauren Affe
Writer(s): Joe Pimienta
US Publisher: SLG Plublishing
It started as a game, something for friends Todd and Kevin do to pass time. Soon Kevin is entangle in Todd’s obsession. Can you say “Psychopath children”?
You can google this book all you want and the highlight will be that it came to life as a school project with Pimienta at the helm, enlisting Hornsby.
That’s really cool and well, but does it measure up to profesional standards?
I think it measures and surpasses them.
The book is Black&White and HalfTone. I’ve mentioned in countless blog entries that I love that right? Coloring is used in the industry as “mandatory sweetener”, not so much as enhancement to the art. The whole point is: Would you (average comicbook reader) would buy your favority superhero Marvel/DC title if it came in black in white tomorrow?
Well, back to A Friendly Game, Pimienta doesn’t fall in any argumentative cliches, the ones needed to tale to hold the story together. Readers will ask “Why does Kevin do that?” but we are not given anymore answers than when we are watching a newsclip on the TV stating that Mr. Menendez killed his parents. Weather after these comercials.
That’s is life, folks, and that is why I respect this story so much.
It assumes the reader will be a grown up. It assumes that the reader will know that bad stuff happen to good people. The book knows that when the drunk driver gets into an accident, he/she is usually the one who comes out alive leaving behind a trail of maimed or dead bodies. Why? Life is a bitch, and it doesn’t have to give you any explanation!
The art in the book is competent, but not ground-breaking. Then again, I don’t think it ever tries to be. You can find some panels where Pimienta tries, and gives you a contrived camera angle, or an ambitious expressive take, but that is not the crux of this book, and you shouldn’t buy it for that. The artists have a great story to tell, and mature means of telling it, and they do, they move ahead at the right pace, telling it.
The character’s psychological progress and evolution gets marked by the passing of the climatological seasons, and if we are reading this book for the first time, we will be surprises to see characters switch roles, just like in real life kids do as they are growing up and they adjust to group dynamics.
Check out the close up on the first few dozen pages. Pimiento understands the intimacy of these outcasts, and brings you into their world. The reader is given temporary membership into the gang and we are placed very closed to Todd sometimes, others near Kevin, but always at whisper-length.
We shall become voyeuristic accomplices to their deeds. When Todd and Kevin fight, the intimacy breaks and we see longer shots, because now we have to take sides and witness the action unfold without being able to a thing about it.
Here is when the panels get a bit more ambitious but never (in my humble opinion) they become too much for the technical skills of the craftsman.
The few pages leading to the ending of Act 1 are great, giving you tightly compacted panels that lead to a rewarding splashpage. That’s how I love my Visual Narrative, budding artists!! Not splashpages every other darned page!!!
I Curse the editors who let you get away with that crap at the Big Two, artists!!! You rob us of the meaning of SPLASH PAGE.
At the end, I felt rewarded. I had been given an unapologetic view into some terrible events, and the punches were not spare, the tees were crossed and the i’s were dotted.
Todd visits Kevin at the detention center and if you wanted better endings, more explanations, or cleaner “origin” stories, go and buy a book from the Big Two. Just make sure it is rated PG or something like that, because you, my friend, are not ready for the big leagues.
For taking risks. For doing Black&White. For not having perfect endings for everything. For respecting the reader’s level of sophistication.
It may not give them sales figures like some titles of the BigTwo, but it sure will guarantee them a position in the shelf of discerning critics and mature comic book lovers.
In my critic’s rating I give A Friendly Game
8.5 Stars out of 10.
PS. This is the same editorial that gave us that other wonderful surprise, Strong Man.
I went again through their website and noticed a bunch of newer and yet more awesome titles.
They just moved up on my ranking of favorite publishers, and are right now among my firsts.