Writer: Fraser Campbell
Art: Iain Laurie
Publisher: Cabal Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A wild, surreal story of a drugged gangster in search of his daughter.
It's like if Hitman and Black Swan had a cinematic lovechild starring Jason Statham, or John Wick on magic mushrooms.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Lee is a hardened gangster.
He's a hardened gangster who has been dosed with a new, hallucinogenic designer drug.
He's a hallucinating, hardened gangster whose daughter has been taken from him.
He wants her back, and he's going to get her back.
He just has to get past all these people with faces like demonic balloons.
It's gonna be a long night.
Man, does Fraser Campbell know how to hook you with an opening line. It's strange, intriguing, and like a dream, you might forget it once you get caught up in the events that follow...at least, until something jogs your memory, and it flashes white-hot into your brain.
Iain Laurie's surreal art style work so well with the comic's theme and the premise that Lee's been drugged. The wavy panel borders and melting mutant-like faces ensure you never forget that Lee's hallucinating. Showing the blending of reality and the drug induced world is a great use of Laurie’s talents, and it also builds a terrifying reality that's impossible for Lee (or for you, as the reader) to trust.
David B. Cooper's colors create a synergy with Laurie's hallucinogenic line art. The palette is thick and bold and feels painted-on. The blacks and reds and purples create a dangerous, terrifying world to be in when on psychotropic drugs.
The drug-induced qualities also extend to Colin Bell's captions, portrayed in uneven parallelograms or devoid of borders at all, just white type on a dark background.
Bell's sound effects in The Edge Off sometimes wrap around buildings and people, and warping that sound is such a fascinating way to make effects that are altered by the drug.
Proper noir has sharp writing, and Campbell delivers this with some quality lines. (A personal note: At least three times in the reading of this issue, I said nice to myself, under my breath, in response to some particularly well-crafted narration.)
There are subtleties hidden in both the writing and the art that hint at story to come or callback to earlier events.
Other favorites in the art: mustache demons, popping heads with a shank, and a door that looks like a skull.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
I'm not sure I got the significance of the number "54" in one scene. Also not sure I get the significance of the creepy man with the tall hat, appearing occasionally like a spark from a live wire, outside of being generally terrifying.
Violence & cursing make this probably not for kiddos.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
For someone so funny, Fraser Campbell writes a mean art-house noir. And no one could have done The Edge Off like Iain Laurie – his psychotropic vision for it is crucial to the story. The two make a remarkable team that take a traditional crime mystery and turns it into something much greater.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
If you like the art:
And Then Emily Was Gone by John Lees & Iain Laurie
Moon Knight, Vol. 3 by Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood
Void Trip by Ryan O'Sullivan & Plaid Klaus
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Fraser Campbell – Writer, Co-creator
Multitalented: Has a background in comedy, writing for radio, and co-writing and co-directing plays
Outlander: Hails from Scotland
Iain Laurie – Illustrator, Co-creator
Also posts art on his Twitter that's dark and dreamlike, always accompanied by a short story laid out like a twisted poem
Outlander: Also from Scotland
David B. Cooper – Colorist
Multitalented: Also a cartoonist
Outlander: Lives in Glasgow, Scotland
Dream Team: Also worked with Fraser Campbell on Alex Automatic
Colin Bell – Letterer
Multitalented: Has also written a couple comics, one of which (Dungeon Fun) won a SICBA award
Outlander: Lives in Scotland
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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