Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin’s sordid tale of television’s past continues to be entertaining, but man, even with the recap page telling me who everyone is, I still had trouble figuring out who was who. I dig Chaykin’s art a lot, but his male characters do all look very similar, and with the book being in black and white, you don’t even have hair colour to differentiate. I’m sure after a few more issues this problem will go away, but it did slightly effect my enjoyment of this particular comic. It’s hard to care about Doc Ginsberg crossing off his list when you have no idea who the people on it are!
But that problem aside, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The details of 1950s TV that Fraction goes into are fascinating, and the whole setting is wonderfully realised by both he and Chaykin. This is a dialogue-packed comic, which is a good thing, as not only does it take twice as long as a lot of other books to read, but the content of that dialogue is also interesting. One of the big trends in the Mid-20th Century in America was the migration of a lot of big industries from the East Coast in New York, to the West Coast in Los Angeles. It’s happening in Mad Men, and it’s happening here. LeMonde Network is based in NYC, and wants to stay there, but Carlyle White wanted to move Satellite Sam to LA. These days the only TV show made in New York is Saturday Night Live (more or less), so we know who wins this particular battle, but it’s going to be interesting to see it play out.
Of course, the central mystery of ‘who or what killed Carlyle White’ is once again a big part of the story. His son is still freaked out by the racy photographs he found, drinking heavily, and, in what is a very disturbing scene, masturbating to them. Seriously, I bought two Image comics this week, and both of them featured creepy wanking, what’s the dead Ed and Matt?
The issue ends with an interesting scene, as Mike confronts one of the women in his Dad’s photos, and one who just happens to be his supposedly-Christian co-star. That last page, with the close-up of the sleazy shot was great. I don’t know why, but Chaykin’s style just oozes dirty sex, and Fraction is utilising that feeling to great effect. This book is moving slowly, and there are teething problems, but I really feel that once things click into gear, we’ll have something special on our hands.