on January 3, 2007
David Lloyd's new Graphic Novel delivers what it promises: a crime-noir thriller, but with more depth than one usually sees in this genre. The premise is familiar, the plot recognizable, but what makes this story more than a cop drama is the art.
Lloyd's art grabs the story and lifts it out of its genre and smacks it around with multifaceted techniques, cinematic perspective, and brilliant brush strokes. Some panels were literally breathtaking. His use of color is skillfully applied in order to pound primal emotional responses when the action heats up and softer, even humorous, touches when the story calls for it. The color and technique lay a vivid foundation beneath the story itself that works subliminally to magnify reader involvement with the text, and even more powerfully when there is no text at all.
Unlike a text-only story, Lloyd's new graphic novel gives the reader a multidimensional experience that is best savored slowly and more than once in order to truly appreciate his considerable talents.
on January 11, 2007
Kickback, the most recent work by artist David Lloyd, whisks the viewer into the world of corruption and greed in this intense crime-noir thriller. Lloyd plays the roles of both artist and writer in this masterpiece, deftly weaving language and imagery to entice the audience to be an active participant, rather than a passive reader. The use of earth tones in monochrome in many passages conveys the grit of the city, as seen through the eyes of a disillusioned "bad cop." However, there is an underlying softness in Lloyd's illustrations, with occasional splashes of color subtly portraying visual puns and even the pathos of a particular character. As opposed to most Graphic Novel's harsh black outlines and garish colors, Lloyd masters light and shadow to give the impression of depth. With Kickback, David Lloyd truly comes of age.
on June 1, 2012
A solid work of crime drama from the artist of V for Vendetta. The story follows a bad cop attempting to piece together his past while trying to right some of his wrongs by investigating a brutal crime that may have ties to the police department. Llyod's artwork sets the tone; the drab, almost muddy colors help establish the noir feel and symbolize the messy morals of the characters. Lloyd also pulls off the dreamy feeling and psychedelic tone brought on by the nightmares of the main character, Joe Canelli, with ease.
The story, if fairly simple, is competently organized, and the dialogue is pretty sharp most of the time (although, you can tell when an English writer is writing for American characters by the way they discuss sports, but that's a whole other thing).
A tad predictable in spots and the aforementioned muddy colors can be a little distracting so that keeps it at a 4/5.
Recommended for fans of Criminal by Brubaker and Philips, the crime work of Brian Azzarello, and V for Vendetta.
on February 6, 2007
David Lloyd's art is some of my favorite in comics today, partly because of a very subtle realism he brings to ever frame and partly because I'm drawn to work that used a lot of heavy shadows. Often figures and scenes will be completely dark except for a tiny bit of skillful highlighting which brings the whole thing into three dimensions. It's the kind of thing I'm trying to accomplish with my own art.
The story in Kickback is a bit too short, I think, but very dense, so it takes a few times reading it to get all the details. I wish it were longer because there's a lot in there that can be explored further. I really enjoyed it and I hope Mr. Lloyd decides to continue the story.
on June 19, 2009
I grew up in the tradition of nice Arthur Conan Doyle stories and the Sherlock Holmes mythos.
I had fun with Arsène Lupin and the Countess of Cagliostro and Raffles and Rocambole.
But, now that I think of it, I am not really a big fan of most of the modern crime comics I've read... the usual crime story opening, stuff like: "The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess. She's telling me she wants me. I'm not going to waste one more minute wondering how I've gotten this lucky" might bore me, unless the artwork is virtuoso enough. I enjoyed Frank Miller's SIN CITY, but some of that dialog, being read aloud, sounds somewhat silly. The stories are entertaining, true, but there is not much depth involved.
And probably that's why crime comics are considered "inferior" to crime prose novels. However, there is one notable exception: KICKBACK, written and drawn by David Lloyd, creator of V FOR VENDETTA!
The first words drift far away from the usual beginnings of a crime comic. And that's good. No lousy rooms, no lousy parts of a lousy town, just a talk about a dream: "Okay. I will tell you about it. I'm in a dark warehouse... at least., that's what it feels like... there's ironwork -- spears of metal -- all around me... I'm on a catwalk that's too narrow to turn around on, so I start to make my way along it in the direction I'm facing... ahead of me, it seems to grow narrower... I can't see to the end of it... then, as I move along it, I see someone coming towards me... I try to make out who it is, but there's a kind of mist...". I thought it was a great way to begin a crime novel. With the description of a dream that is also an essential part of the story in many ways.
First, because this dream is like a metaphor of what the protagonist is going through. Joe Canelli feels he is going in one direction, but would that be the correct one? The pathway offers no other choices, in his dream, it is too narrow. After all, the protagonist of KICKBACK is a corrupt policeman - because everyone else is corrupt... but to say that KICKBACK is a story about a corrupt cop in a corrupt city would be an understatement, because the story is much more complex and interesting than that.
In the beginning of this review, I said that I was not a big fan of crime comics, because many times they feel hollow and clichéd (even when virtuously drawn) - but KICKBACK is different, it is not only a crime comic, it is a complex story, about guilt, about dreams, about progress, about corruption. And that is curious, because in a way, has some parallells with V FOR VENDETTA - regarding corruption, even if we are talking about a different kind of corruption.
There is much more going on in KICKBACK and I do not want to talk too much about some of those layers, to avoid spoiling part of the relevant content of the book. However, it is a great story that offers us lots of food for thought: about listening to our conscience, about the value of old people's wisdom, about doing what everyone else does - all wrapped up in a nice mystery with lots of action drawn in the magnificently detailed style David Lloyd did in V FOR VENDETTA, but with digital improvements this time.
So, to conclude this small review, the world of KICKBACK feels like a believable place, where not everything (or everyone) is black and white and each character feels like a real, complex person. This is not your usual crime comic. This is a crime comic suitable for a thinking man, as rich and deep and entertaining and complex as any prose novel. I've always been a fan of David Lloyd, and this work, drawn and written by him is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone - comic collector, demanding reader or crime novels aficionado. An Unmissable Book, without a doubt!
So there I am reading David Lloyd's Kickback, suspicious that the proclaimer (kind of like a disclaimer, only in favor of a person instead of in opposition to them) of this book as a "crime noir thriller" from "the creator of V for Vendetta" was a little one-sided and maybe even pretentious. And I get even more leary as I'm reading and there's what seems to be a transparent narrative structure fueled with weak verbal complexity and, furthermore, half-hearted attempts at pictorial intricacies. But as I keep reading -- even in spite of myself, perhaps -- I am pleasantly surprised by the slow, controlled, and increasingly powerful use of the comics medium to tell what in its fullness becomes a well-wrought story with a moral that's not campy nor Right-wing religious nor didactic. David Lloyd has created a satisfying narrative that does two things effectively: 1) tells a great, action-packed police-procedural / crime story, and 2) makes challenging uses of the comic medium look easy. Kickback is the story of a guy named Joe who used to be a kid named Joey and how a significant part of his (once lost) past allows him to come full-circle (and back to what he believes in) during a police scandal / crisis. This is a nice addition to the noir comic genre; think of it as a thinking woman's / man's Sleeper or Criminal in a British context with higher expectations of its reader. (Which is not meant to cast aspersions on either of the other titles; I have every issue of both.) But behind Lloyd's story is the construction of a chain of images and metaphors for modern (post-modern, if you want) life, the most striking of which is the image of two breast-flesh eyes in the lenses of a pair of hovering glasses. It's an image as stunning as anything you'll find in Renee Magritte's work, and I salute Mr. Lloyd for it. There are many aspects of the work to appreciate artistically: Lloyd's creative ways of rendering motion, the hyper-realism of signs and backgrounds, and, especially, his own unique "soft" penciling and subdued coloring. It all goes together very well with this story of how introspection and remembrance can provide a very real --perhaps all too-real-- path to travel in one's world. Kickback proves that Lloyd can tell a good action story that can have a much greater significance than typical uses of genre fiction allows for. In my opinion, it also proves why he was the perfect choice to work with Alan Moore on V for Vendetta and why he, Lloyd, (with an equal nod to the other, just as deserving half of V's progenitor team) is absolutely deserving of the title "Creator of V for Vendetta." But I'm much more pleased that this reinforces David Lloyd's unique stylistic. LAST NOTE: Pay attention to Lloyd's use of geometrical shapes. I'm still searching for something behind that than what's obvious. There are so many detailed uses of doors (rectangles), scaffolding (triangles and diamonds), rounded ceilings and ribs (arches and ovals) that it is astounding . . .