on September 16, 2012
In Blue Estate, Kalvachev and Osborne score a hit. As a fan of The Criminal graphic novel series and 100 Bullets, I was interested in Blue Estate as another entry in modern crime noir in comic form. I read this one over the weekend and was not disappointed. It vividly portrays a modern pulp crime story in an entertaining way--an underdog private eye, hollywood actors, lowlife thugs, and a seductive stripper all interact in an intricate plot filled with tense scenes. It is a bit more stylized then the Criminal series if you are familiar with that, and less straightforward than 100 Bullets. I was very satisfied with the product and am eagerly placing my order for the next in the series.
on November 4, 2011
DISCLAIMER #1) If you do not consider yourself a "mature adult" - - STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW! If you can be described as "young and impressionable" - - THEN DON"T READ ANY PARTS OF THIS ENTIRE REVIEW. I am not accountable and cannot be held responsible if you fit those categories and persist in reading further. There are plenty of high quality comics available geared to your level that you should be exploring. Please give them a chance.
ENDORSEMENT #1 After a hard day of work coupled with this age of uncertainty we live in (inefficient government, global terrorism, financial collapse, environmental catastrophes) many of us relive that stress by reading or watching popular entertainment depicting someone having a worse day than us, some poor unfortunates stuck in a situation far more stressful and dire (and quite often with fatal consequences than anything that we could ever envision in the confines of our everyday world. It helps keep mature adults grounded and less likely to turn berserker. (At least, that's how it works for me.
DISCLAIMER #2 If you can't agree with any of that, don't like contemporary entertainment that steps outside the comfort zone, or consider my opinions to be heresy - - then QUIT READING THIS! That way we may still stay friends.
ENDORSEMENT #2 "Similar but different." Those three words are the best way and the quickest way I can describe to you why you should be reading BLUE ESTATE. In comics, similar but different than 100 BULLETS, SCALPED, SIN CITY, CRIMINAL and GREEK STREET. In movies, similar but different than PULP FICTION and SNATCH. On television, similar but different than BREAKING BAD and DEXTER. In fiction similar but different than the works of author Charlie Huston.
DISCLAIMER #3/ENDORSEMENT #3) I am an advocate of continuing to purchase monthly titles rather than waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable collection. I fear that some quality titles may not attain enough sales numbers to persuade the financial people controlling the parent company to incur more costs by publishing a trade edition. I also believe that everyone needs to support and visit local comic shops on a regular basis, and picking up some monthly titles is a good reason to do so. In spite of that, BLUE ESTATE is a work best appreciated at one reading because 1) there's too much going on to keep track of all the subplots and various characters and 2) the finer qualities of this work are better appreciated when examined in a long, single dose.
The publicity material and trade ads for BLUE ESTATE make an effort to describe the basic premise of the series, but comes up short:
"It all starts with a low-rent private eye trying (and failing) to escape the long shadow of his respected cop father. But a chance encounter with a B-list action star on the mean streets of Hollywood drags the wannabe gumshoe into a world of strippers, mobsters...and the wildest (and only!) case of his career! See who lives, who dies, and who gets the Tiger Blood knocked outta them in the first four issues of the fast, funny smash hit new crime series from Image Comics! "
That is just a small part of what Blue Estate is about. There are a wide variety of characters, all with flaws and interesting backgrounds. I'm not going to detail any of them here - - but I may write about this book some more at another time. Issue #5 (the latest release, not part of the Volume 1 TPB) does a better and more revealing job of summarizing the story so far in a page one re-cap.
The trade paperback edition has many worthwhile bonus features including some artist sketches, concepts, and even clay models of the characters. There are several examples of pages in progress so you can better appreciate the inking and color details, etc. My favorite bonus feature is the preface page that was added. In a very clever preamble "Bruce Maddox", one of the wildly arrogant and faux spiritual characters a.k.a action film actor/director writes about "HOW TO READ BLUE ESTATE". What we get is a very good indication of the humorous and cynical tone and intent of this book. After a very flowery and mystical description of the state one must enter to best appreciate this work, Maddox then goes on to denounce comics as "non-Zen" and beneath notice.
His concluding summary of the book is also pretty spot-on:
"Now visualize the exact opposite of serenity: a high-octane adrenaline shot of comic violence, violent comedy, tangled alliances, mistaken identities, desperate heroes, ruthless villains and maximum firepower."
"You are now in the BLUE ESTATE state of mind."
The art is very good and creative in its depiction of the wild events of the storyline.
The covers are singular works of art, poster worthy.
Like those works I mentioned above, BLUE ESTATE can be a guilty pleasure for many of us - - and a sure-fire stress-buster. I'm reminded of the work of David Lapham, a writer I admire for his ability to vividly depict some of the more depraved and sleazy aspects of modern civilization while still keeping the reader distant yet empathetic with the characters. I've said before that I'm delighted and disgusted at the same time while reading Lapham, and often feel like I need to take a shower afterwards. I'm getting the same feeling for BLUE ESTATE.
BLUE ESTATE has a website at [...] and is one of several comics out there indie and mainstream) to take advantage of the benefits of social networking to help market and attain exposure for individual works. You can follow characters from BLUE ESTATE on TWITTER, where they frequently post comments. Some of the funnier ones are reprinted in the back pages of Volume 1.
Trust me. Pick up this book.
on April 19, 2012
The art and illustration is great here, it is done in a wonderful style. However, the plot is a fairly shallow gangster story and in places incredibly violent. (There is a scene I still remember vividly months later involving torture with chainsaws). Also, the story line is somewhat misogynistic with the gangsters beating their women back into line etc. If you are willing to overlook the weak plot the art and style is extremely well done. Overall I enjoyed it, though I wish it had better writing and a stronger story line.