Writer: Mark D'anna
Artist: Arjuna Susini
Colorist: Vittorio Astone
Letter: AndWorld Design
Publisher: Source Point Press
WHAT IS IT?
A mix-up of pulpy hard-boiled noir detective vibes and vampires set in 1940s Hollywood(land).
Blood on Sunset could best be sold as a new-age DC Vertigo homage, and a noir John Constantine, Hellblazer combined with Vampire The Masquerade.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Ex-Cop Clint Braddock has a dark secret past that few know about. This secret is what changed his life, getting him kicked out of the force, and losing his girlfriend, Beverly. But, years later (in 1947, to be exact) Braddock receives a call from Beverly while out for a drink. Beverly happened to "stumble" upon one of the highest local mafia kingpins', Bugsy Siegel's, gruesomely murdered body. However, arriving on the scene, Braddock finds everything isn't what it seems.
The murder of Siegel is a brutal one, but to make matters worse, someone knows Braddock's secret and has planted evidence to put the blame on him. Nonetheless, his problems don't stop there, as with the mafia kingpin now dead, everyone wants to be at the top, including the vampire crime syndicate. What's not to love about a hard-boiled noir Hollywood(land) vampire tale?
A cover that tells you what the comic/issue is about is always a good one, and Blood on Sunset #1's cover does exactly that. In the foreground, we have a vampire covered in blood with blood around him, then in the background, we have the type of noir car associated with detectives and, finally the location, Hollywood(land). Blood on Sunset #1's cover is a great example of visual storytelling.
D'anna absolutely nails the noir storytelling and feel of the world. He knows what works for the genre and uses it well – tropes, cliches, and all – and only takes it "too far" occasionally.
The times D'anna brings in original/not typical noir detective ideas into the classic storytelling genre are seamless while being interesting and driving you to want to learn more of the world.
The build-up to events is perfectly paced, with the slow sprinkling of Braddock's backstory shining through the most.
Blood on Sunset's synopsis already tells you there will be vampires, but they really don't show up until the end of issue #1. Instead, we get hints and build-up until they arrive. This slow build helps the reveal hit harder. Especially the cliffhanger of #1.
Whereas D'anna can write noir amazingly, Susini's art really brings the world to life. Susini's pencils fit the mood perfectly, with the marriage of art and story vibes being immaculate.
Susini's panel work changes constantly per page and no two pages look the same. On each page, he plays around with panel placement and shape to make each feel dramatic and different. This gives each a refreshing, unique feeling.
For the few deaths by vampires in the first two issues, Susini is able to portray them like violent animal attacks, making the vampires terrifying to the reader.
On the subject of gruesome deaths, Astone's colors help bring out the spine-chilling brutality with bloody, deadly tones.
During Blood on Sunset #2's flashback, Astone uses a different color palette that helps set it apart from present times.
Although I wouldn't know what's called, Astone uses a "filter" that makes the colors look older, and the pages have a scratched-out look to them, resembling Hellblazer, Sandman, and other classic Vertigo comics. This "filter" works amazingly with Blood on Sunset.
The noir genre can be word-heavy, and Blood on Sunset follows that theme at some points, but at no time does the page feel too heavily worded or hard to read. This is due to AndWorld Design's lettering and their ability to make a page not feel too claustrophobic.
One of the best aspects of AndWorld Design's lettering comes in the aspect of when they swap Braddock's inner dialogue to his written detective notes. During the murder investigating scene Braddock is talking to himself with a yellow narration box. But, when he starts taking notes mentally, AndWorld Design switches the yellow box to a cream-colored box that has an edge that looks ripped out of a notepad.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The slow unraveling of Clint's Backstory is cool and makes him interesting, but Clint as a character and how he interacts with the world and character feels like any other cliche noir Main Man and, at times, boring.
Blood on Sunset starts off as a cliche noir Damsel in Distress story. As great as the rest of the story and world is, this form of a beginning hampers the uniqueness of Blood on Sunset. That said, it is a noir cliche for a reason, and like the rest of the noir storytelling, D'anna knows what he is doing. It would have just had a harder impact, and draw, if started in another fashion.
AndWorld Design's lettering is great, but during one moment a word is almost cut into with how close it is lettered to a panel line.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
While there are some "overplayed" noir storytelling cliches, the team behind Blood on Sunset really knows what they're doing. D'anna's writing for this genre is fantastic and you'd think that he'd been doing this for years, even though this is his first foray into comics. Artists Susini and Astone equally match the vibe that D'anna is writing, and it's hard to see anyone else doing the visuals here, all while AndWorld Design adds the cherry on top with lettering that brings the vampire-infested world to life.
If you are looking for a comic that resembles older Vertigo titles, then Blood on Sunset will catch your attention. Or if you have any interest in noir, hard-boiled stories, detectives stories, vampires, or something akin to an indie John Constantine, Hellblazer, then Blood on Sunset is an absolute must-buy! I look forward to D'anna's future projects.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Vampire The Masquerade by Tim Seeley, Tini Howard, Blake Howard, Nathan C. Gooden, Devmalya Pramanik, Addison Duke, Jim Campbell
John Constantine, Hellblazer Any era is great, especially early Vertigo issues
Bleed Them Dry by Hiroshi Koizumi, F.J. DeSanto, Eliot Rahal, Dike Ruan, Miquel Muerto, Andworld Design,
If you like the art:
The Replacer by Zac Thompson, Arjuna Susini, Dee Cunniffe, Marshall Dillon
Sweet Heart by Dillon Gilbertson, Francesco Iaquinta, Marco Pagnotta, Saida Temofonte
The R.U.S.H. by Simon Spurrier, Nathan C. Gooden, Addison Duke, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Mark D'anna (@markdanna) – Writer
Blood on Sunset is his first published comic
Friends with David M. Booher of Canto, and Killer Queens fame
Arjuna Susini (@ArjunaSusini) – Artist
Outlander: Lives in Italy
Most of his work is done through traditional means, but he also has some experience with digital art
Vittorio Astone (@AstoneVittorio) – Colorist
Has had short stories published in Heavy Metal Magazine
Outlander: Lives in Italy
AndWorld Design (@andworlddesign)– Letterer
A lettering design studio founded by Eisner, Harvey, and Ringo nominated letterer, Deron Bennet
Have previously worked with DC Comics, Marvel, BOOM Studios, and many more
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