Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon create a genuine humdinger of a thriller in NBM's The Broadcast.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Eric Hobbs • Noel Tuazon
On the day of the historic broadcast of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles which triggered panic in many places it sounded so real, a family in the countryside fears for its life and also has to deal with strangers and neighbors coming in for help. The tension brings to the surface long suppressed emotions and conflicts and a violent reckoning in a dark stormy night.
"I'm impressed with Tuazon's loose style and the care with which Hobbs is setting up his story. The characters have all emerged as individuals with strong personalities, and good and evil are sharply delineated. Tuazon's art is washy and atmospheric, and he does a great job of setting the scene, including small details such as a set table or a scarecrow on a rainy night."
-Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
6x9, 180pp., B&W, trade pb.: $13.99
It's a dark and stormy night. It's the kind of cliché that bad novels revel in. However, Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon transcend their rote milieu and create a genuine humdinger of a thriller in NBM's The Broadcast.
Rural Indiana, October 30, 1938. History buffs will lock onto that date. It is the night of Orson Welles' infamous broadcast of The War of the Worlds. In this small and remote town, the storm is a device to allow the power to go out and, in the days of antiquated communication technology, effectively disconnect the town from the rest of the world. So when the play reaches its most frantic point, it cuts out and the remote community of the graphic novel panics.
It really is a nifty little what if scenario. One that is easily imaginable. Hobbs does a great bit of character set up before the broadcast starts and introduces the radio play in such a way that he barely even quotes it. It is a genius bit of writing. It is the kind that shows up in those movies from the forties and fifties that are watched to this day. It pulls you in and comforts you without dumbing things down. It has even got that same kind of tension that the Luna Brothers showed in Girls, except it never has to get graphic or foul mouthed.
The story transcends that thriller aspect by also being a study in human behavior. The tension works, because Hobbs realizes the same thing Hitchcock did. Take real characters and put them in a crazy situation and whatever they do will be more believable. He builds up a strained father daughter relationship with a wayward fiancé building up the emotional walls. He puts a single black man in the story as a stranger with a secret to hide. To tell you more about the various people that fill this book would give away too much of the plot.
We see characters step over the line of sanity in the name of their family. We see people waffle on the line. We see people reach the line and watch them become heroes as a result. What's most fascinating is that the danger they perceive is not real, but the dangers in their hearts are even worse. It is quickly paced and easy to read, all while feeling authentic. Much like the eponymous broadcast, it doesn't matter whether or not it is authentic, it feels that way.
Tuazon ably assists with his almost minimalist lines. There are panels that aren't much more than thumbnails. Normally it is the kind of thing that would throw me out of the story, but instead it works – making the tension more palatable. His brilliant ink washes then confound the critical eye by making it all the more detailed. Sure, there are places where it is a might bit difficult to tell who is who and what is happening, but that is the point. This is a book about chaos and moments when it is hard to tell who it is you are looking at only assist that feeling.
It's great to see a comic that is not only well told and interestingly illustrated, but also embraces the mythos of the American experience.
Review by: Lee Newman