Siren’s Calling: A Horror Noir #1
I know, what am I doing talking about a horror comic? Well, it was pitched to me as heavily influenced by film noir, and I love classic movies. However, as soon as I started doing my basic review research*, I found a number of warning signs. So let’s start with those.
Siren’s Calling is written by John T. Trigonis, a self-described “renowned crowdfunding expert” for filmmakers. It was adapted into a comic in 2012 because short films cost a lot to make, so presumably he thought comics would be cheaper. This first issue was crowdfunded in October 2015, and the second issue is still being thumbnailed by artist Lauren Clemente.
Typical of writers new to comics, the first issue isn’t satisfactory as a stand-alone. There’s a lot of setup, mostly character introduction, and while some of it is interesting (the rest being already familiar to readers of the genre), there’s no payoff and no idea when the reader will get a satisfying conclusion. The introductory text piece gives more of an idea of the story (and why it might be worth reading) than the comic pages that follow, mentioning how the premise features a traditional mythic siren wanting to be a movie star in 1947 Hollywood. We don’t get that far in the comic.
Also unfortunately typical of the genre, the woman is a visual object, while the men are given motivations, dialogue, and emotion. (Plus, she’s naked and they’re not.) A taxi driver nearly runs over Lorelei, so he takes her to his house to recover, where she turns out to be a literal bloodthirsty monster. Meanwhile, a director working on a comeback has just lost his actress. Although she quits dramatically, the reason why is not clear in this issue, other than to set up the director and the siren meeting at some future time.
The art can be nice, with a photo-reference-influenced feel that ties into the subject of filmmaking and a good use of black and white. It can also be stiff, and the panel-to-panel flow relies on the dialogue to carry the reader through understanding the events. Individual panels are scattered moments, and the storytelling could be stronger. The writer seems a bit too much in love with dramatic internal monologue that isn’t as poetic as he wants it to be and didn’t convey much to this reader.
If this had come out as a graphic novel with the full story, there might be more to recommend. But in that case, it would have required more money, which isn’t a given, either. (The writer provided a digital review copy.)
*Yes, I do research. Generally it involves finding the comic’s website, if it has one, and reading up on the latest news about it (since I unfortunately often run behind on keeping up with release dates). I also look for any online store, to point readers to, and any additional information about the creators. Unless this has already been provided in a review submission.