Fellow comic journalist, Joey Esposito, from IGN.com launches his first venture in comic writing with the collected edition of Footprints. Joey Esposito has spent a lot of time reading and writing about comics, and in this ridiculous pulpy tale it shows that all his hard work has not been in vain. “Footprints” centers around mythological monsters like, Bigfoot and the Jersey Devil, among others, who have outed themselves to the public, and formed a team of hard-boiled detectives. The book is abstract, gritty, comical, and it’s an absolutely splendid crime story. Footprints not only re-appropriates the noir genre, but does so with gusto and passion that flies off the pages. With “Footprints”, Esposito and Moore have created an incredible monster-noir tale that will leave you pleading for more.
WRITTEN BY: Joey Esposito
ART BY: Jonathan Moore
PUBLISHER: 215 Ink
When it comes to absurd ideas, what medium presents them better than comic books. Esposito is well aware of this, and he takes full advantage of it throughout the story. Mythological creatures, Bigfoot, Yeti, The Jersey Devil, and other cryptids have come out of hiding in an attempt to function in the real world (not unlike Ugly Americans). Bigfoot, or Foot as they call him, is a washed up private investigator who, after discovering his brothers mutilated corpse, decides to get the old monster-detective team together to solve the case. Despite the fact that each character fits into a distinct archetypal role, it never feels forced. Each character has a unique voice, and in the end they all play a key function in the grand scheme of things.
The plot is completely outrageous, but Esposito is unabashed in his delivery. Seeing Bigfoot riding on top of the Loch Ness Monster may seem silly out of context, but within the confines of “Footprints”, it works wonders. What solidifies the story is the interwoven subplot that reverts back to the past, revealing dirty little secrets that have a huge impact on the present case. If you read crime fiction, you’ve seen this before, but the creative team does an incredible job of presenting it in a slightly different way. Esposito’s command of the comics medium is evident throughout the story, and somewhat shocking considering this is his first book. His presentation and dramatic pacing keep the reader engaged, even with such a zany story.
Esposito and Moore fill the book with little details that force you to pay close attention to each panel, no matter how small. They don’t simply rely on dialogue to move the plot forward, but like with all good noir stories, it’s the subtext that plays an essential role. Whether it’s a broken picture frame, a small note, or a hand gesture, “Footprints” is filled with great subtleties that showcase how wonderfully ideas can be presented in graphic storytelling . This is invigorating storytelling, and neo-noir at it’s finest.
Another aspect of the book that gives it that punchy, pulpy goodness is the dialogue. Who on earth would have thought to make The Jersey Devil a caricature of Jersey meat heads. He’s over the top in every possible way and it’s hilarious. I rarely laugh when I read comics, but this one had me. The combination of the rough and tough language, the absurdity of the premise, and intertwining narrative, make “Footprints” an extremely original, extremely fun read.
While Esposito’s writing carries the book, it owes a lot to the artwork of Jonathan Moore. I’m a sucker for black and white art, but the way Moore captures the quintessential crime expressionist lighting, the character expressions, and the subtleties in the panels is astonishing. The sketchy lines, dark shading, and cluttered spaces set the mood from page one. While some panels are a bit too jumbled, I felt that it only added to the notion that the audience isn’t supposed to know entirely what’s going on until the end. Whether intentional or not, it worked. Much credit is also due for making Foot and the gang look so cool despite being monsters in clothing trying to solve crimes.
If you thought you knew noir, think again. “Footprints” re-imagines crime fiction in a world where all the cheesy hoaxes you could think of are real. It’s everything you could want from a noir story and more. Joey Esposito has made a name for himself as a comics journalist, it won’t be long before he does it again as a comic writer. “Footprints” is one hell of a good read.
Check out issue #1 for free here!