CONCEPTUAL HEIST, VOL. 1
Writer: Jay D'Ici
Illustrator: Matt G. Gagnon Publisher: Self-published
WHAT IS IT?
A futuristic, art-themed heist featuring a strong female lead and sci-fi elements.
Imagine a futuristic, gender-swapped The Thomas Crown Affair.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Jemma Heiss is a thief who poses as a private museum curator. She believes stealing from the very rich is fine because they have so much money, and have "stolen" much of it from the poor. So she shows up to an event, intending to steal a classic, massively expensive painting. You can probably guess which one by the cover image! But this heist may be more difficult than she expected. Her plans start to go sideways and her luck doesn’t seem like it’s on her side, either. Should she call off the heist and cut her losses? Or can she pull it off, even when things aren’t going her way? The first issue works as a one-shot, introducing us to the cast of characters, this world set roughly 60-80 years in the future, and the kind of tone and heists to expect. Later issues deal with some of the fallout of the first issue, and sets up a suspenseful new heist...in space!
It's clear that Jay D'Ici is a fan of the crime genre and heist stories, and he balances the action and necessary set-up well, keeping you interested throughout
Because it was originally written for weekly updated on Webtoon, Tumblr and other sites and apps, you get a kind of built-in suspense every few pages that really makes it a page-turner of a comic
The futuristic spy tech was fascinating without being over-the-top or unbelievable
Some sexual tension in later issues builds in an extra layer of depth and stakes to the heist
There's a definite "look" to the comic, a classy elegance that merges the 1920s with a futuristic aesthetic, and it makes for a really timeless, enjoyable comic
D'Ici mentions "Jazzpunk" in the 1st issue's extra content, and I like that as a descriptor – wish it had a jazzy, Cowboy Bebop-like soundtrack to go with it!
Speaking of backmatter, the Kickstartered ("Kickstarted"?), colored issues come with some interesting behind-the-scenes content, and more
It's cool seeing Matt G. Gagnon experiment more and more with design and panel layout
The flourishes at the top and bottom of every page was a nice add that elevates the entire comic
There's a really great scene where a 9-panel grid is used to show planned actions during a conversation, almost like a film's action montage as characters run through their plans, and it was very well-executed
The inking was also strong, possibly because the comic is meant to be viewed first without color, with a keen eye for chiaroscuro and line weight for different characters and depth of field
The color palette from atelierMUSE is muted, but also makes some of the busier panels easier to parse and brings the environments to life all the more
I especially liked the movement color holds – they work well in the style of the book's lettering and build on the original art
The lettering works very well with the book's tone and art theme, immersive, with delicate flourishes for tails
Downplayed sound effects fit effortlessly with the action without muddling the already crowded panels
It's free on Webtoons!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Jemma's a bit of a Mary Sue
Even when she's in danger, it's more due to bad luck than her own personal failings
We get her in a little more danger of being caught in later issues, but I think the book could play up the suspense and near-failure to an even higher degree in the future
I think she could use a little more nuance to really bring her to life
If ever her past is explored, like why she's not running her father's security business, that might be a good time to layer that part of her personality in
The first issue is tight, well-rounded between action and exposition, but later issues can feel slower, weighed-down by heavy dialogue and exposition
It feels mostly necessary to show the reader what the plan is and build that tension, and you don't notice it as much when you're reading weekly on Webtoon (for example), but when you're reading all at once, it can definitely feel like a lot of reading and little action
Though the first 2 issues have color, later ones don't yet have it because color wasn't part of the original comic
While the color definitely adds to the story, Gagnon does a solid job of making his line are clear, sometimes adding flat color when necessary
Cursing may make this not the best read for kids, but there isn't much else offensive in the series
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
D'Ici and Gagnon have created a story rife with possibility. It's an enjoyable heist comic with legs for days, made by a team that works very well together. I can't wait to see where it goes.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Unfinding of Erasmus Civitatum by Jay D'Ici & Filip Rocone
Heavenly Blues by Ben Kahn & Bruno Hidalgo
Thief of Thieves by Kirkman, Spencer, Martinbrough & Serrano
If you like the art:
Yonaoshi by Matt G. Gagnon
Zen & The Ephemeral by Laurence Dea Dionne
Fisk the S.U.B.S.T.I.T.U.T.E., Vol. 1 by Dino Caruso & Shawn Richison
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jay D'Ici – Writer
Multitalented: Has also worked in film & video games
Outlander: Hails from Montreal
Matt G. Gagnon – Illustrator
Dream Team: Works with Jay D'Ici at their day job (or, at least they worked together at the time the series was started)
Outlander: Also lives in Montreal
atelierMUSE – Colorist
Outlander: Is actually a comics collective based out of Montreal
Collective is made up of artist Simon Gannon and hobbyist assistant KrisRix (whose art you'll see in the inside cover)
Specializes in illustration, comics, doujinshi, storyboarding, character design, pinups, models and miniatures painting
Shawn Baichoo – Editor
Outlander: Also calls Montreal his home
Multitalented: Is also an actor and fight choreographer who has appeared in several major video games (well, the result of his motion captured motions have, at least)
Detective Noble, in this comic, was modeled after him
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
Read it for free on the LINE Webtoon app
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Jay D'Ici & Matt G. Gagnon characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Jay D'Ici & Matt G. Gagnon or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED