Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Night Owls (Volume 1) TP

Peter Timony & Bobby Timony

The Night Owls is a comic originally published on-line through DC's Zuda line, but was one of the lucky ones popular enough to justify a print run (along with Bayou and High Moon).  The book is about a detective agency called The Night Owls who investigate supernatural crimes.  It takes place in New York City during the 1920's and features Ernest Baxter, a bookish occult specialist, his wise-cracking sidekick Roscoe the gargoyle, and feisty flapper Mindy Markus.  The art is done comic-strip style with two rows of strips, often ending with a gag or a good leave-off point to continue with the next strip.  It's mostly done in black and white, with the exception of an extended storyline in the middle of this volume, when the detectives venture to another world, which is decked out in full color.  It's nice and kind of cute to see, like an homage to Wizard of Oz, but for the most part, unnecessary.  The art already looks great in black and white and the colors don't really enhance anything and weren't used to great effect, except for the shock of rolling green hills in the very first panel that took place in this world.  It loses its novelty quickly.  But the black and white art looks really great throughout this title, higher quality stuff than you see in a lot of on-line comics out there.  It's cartoony and expressive, but pays a good amount of attention to detail and the layout of the panels.  I like the mix of monsters in this era; It made for an interesting one-of-a-kind feel to this book, bringing in gangsters, police balls and flappers among the vampires, werewolves and ghosts.  The characters have some interesting traits, but the romance between Ernest and Mindy never really clicks for me, unfortunately, and Roscoe remains one note throughout.  Mindy is easily the standout character of this title, although Ernest's unique situation is clever, and messes with audience expectations rather nicely.  Overall I think this is a nice blend of different genres.  Comedy, fantasy, horror, action, period drama, romance.  In the end, it really does remind me of a Dick Tracy strip.  It does a lot of things, but shines most when it focuses on that straight-out action, which usually carries over in arcs like old action/adventure strips.  The Night Owls has a rich premise, and I'm glad to see an on-line comic of this caliber being recognized and making its way to print and a broader audience.  It's well-earned.

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