Writer: Jarred Luján
Artist: Orlando Caicedo
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
WHAT IS IT?
A heist story set during the seedy drug culture of Miami, Florida in the 1980s.
Think coming-of-age tale about Latinx teens meets a side quest from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Diego has a plan for his friends Angel, Mariana, and Fabian to help him use the Calle Ocho Festival for cover to rob the Del Océano nightclub owned by the ruthless local drug lord El Viejo and his gang Los Marielitos and leave Miami.
As Diego and Fabian plan the heist, Mariana and Angel have doubts about the plan's success and everyone's survival. Will all four friends follow through with the plan and succeed or will El Viejo and Los Marielitos stop them? Will their friendship survive? Will they?
Luján sets his story in 1984 and there are certain elements, like the walkie-talkies the core cast use to communicate, that generate nostalgia for that period of time; however, this isn’t a fond look back to a bygone era. This story is grounded in realism and the setting and early scenes work well to subvert expectations.
Caicedo’s characters are clearly defined here and ultra expressive, clearly capturing the characters' youth and emotions. There’s a lot of linework so it feels as though the characters are always in motion, which fits this story of 4 teenagers well.
Sahadewa brings such vibrant colors to the comic, with bright turquoise and pink evoking a happy mood, which works in opposition to the subject matter of the story subverting expectations.
Birch is quickly becoming a stand-out letterer in the industry, employing different techniques so there’s never any confusion as to the character speaking when that character isn’t on the page. The position of the speech bubbles sets a quick pace, which works well for this kind of story.
El Viejo's 3-page introduction was an effective way to establish the significant threat the protagonists face.
There are no narrative captions save for a few exceptions, so the bulk of the story is driven by the actions and dialogue of the stellar ensemble cast, which makes the reader more invested in the struggle of all 4 protagonists more so than a single point-of-view narrator would.
Diego, Angel, Mariana, and Fabian are bilingual and Luján handles this perfectly. This may be written for an English-speaking audience, but there are no translations here for when Spanish is spoken by the characters. Luján does an excellent job overall with the characters’ dialogue and it all felt authentic to each.
Captions are used in the first issue, as I mentioned above, with a color-coordinated box for each of the four main characters to provide some insight. It’s just enough to give the reader a small, but important sense of the personality of Diego, Angel, Mariana, and Fabian.
The relationship between Diego, Angel, Mariana, and Fabian drives this story. Their loyalty to one another and the care they show to each other is compelling, especially when that is tested by the plan for the heist.
As the comic progresses and more is learned about the main characters, there are several very emotional scenes that set up the ending of the story. The panels of Angel’s conversation with his older brother explore Angel’s motivation to participate in the heist and work particularly well.
The heist begins halfway through the 3rd issue and all members of the creative team are in sync to craft a compelling, action-packed, emotional sequence.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
A few times throughout, there would be a close-up of a character and their features would be slightly distorted in a way that made it difficult to determine the emotion meant to be conveyed or made the face slightly off-putting.
I thought it worked that the comic opens with the characters discussing El Viejo and then right into discussing Diego’s plan, but Diego’s enthusiasm for his own dangerous and potentially deadly plan was confusing, especially when challenged by other characters.
There is a reveal, which I won’t spoil, regarding Diego that comes in issue #4 that helped to explain his motivation, but at the expense of the reality of the narrative. The reveal is also a surprise to the other main characters, which is the problem.
The ending felt a bit anticlimactic largely due to how abruptly the comic ends.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Dry Foot is a unique comic that feels both steeped in nostalgia and grounded in realism. It will resonate with any reader that grew up in or around violence or yearned for a way to escape to a better life. Part coming-of-age tale and part crime story, Dry Foot is far more than the sum of these parts.
In an interview with Comic Book Yeti’s Christa Harader, Luján stated, “Representation is vital. I believe that with all my heart, but I also love new and genuine storytelling.” If Luján’s goal was to tell a new and genuine Latinx story by Latinx people, he succeeded.
Despite being set in 1984, Dry Foot feels like a contemporary story about friendship, family, violence, and yearning for a way out. This comic will resonate with both teens and adults.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Luján has written a story for 2 upcoming anthologies: A Cold, Dark Universe from Black Hole Comics and Entertainment and PROJECT: Big Hype, whose Kickstarter campaign ends on March 19, 2021.
Show’s End by Anthony Cleveland and Jeferson Sadzinski.
Quarter Killer by Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, Jamie Jones, and Ryan Ferrier.
If you like the art:
Bakano by Orlando Caicedo.
The Bad Guys by Luke Lancaster and Orlando Caicedo.
Hollywood Trash by Stephen Sonneveld and Pablo Verdugo Munoz.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jarred Luján (@jarredlujan) –Writer
New Face: Dry Foot is Luján’s first published mini-series.
On the Rise: Luján will have work published in at least 2 upcoming anthologies and has a project coming to Kickstarter soon, which he has described as Mexicans with Swords.
Award Winner: Luján was one of the winners of the 2019 Mad Cave Studios Talent Search.
Orlando Caicedo (@caicedo)– Artist
Caicedo started his career in illustration helping to develop animated shows for Adult Swim, FX, and FOx Networks.
Outlander: Caicedo was born in Colombia, but raised in Atlanta, Georgia.
Award Winner: Caicedo was one of the winners of the 2019 Mad Cave Studios Talent Search.
Warnia Sahadewa (@Wksahadewa1) – Colorist
Prolific: In a short span of time, she has managed to work with some of the best publishers in the industry including Titan Comics, IDW Publishing, Boom! and Mad Cave Studios.
Outlander: Hails from Jakarta, Indonesia
Justin Birch (@JustinBirch)– Letterer
Name Recognition: Lettering aficionados take note - Birch has a Ringo award nomination under his belt and has worked for everyone from DC to Vault.
He’s a member of the AndWorld Design lettering studio.
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Dry Foot #1-#4 was published by Mad Cave Studios, Inc. All characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of the above or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.