Dark Beach #1

Dark Beach #1

Dark Beach is a sci-fi noir. While it makes a couple of mistakes common to startup indy comics, it’s well-drawn enough for me to suggest you check out the preview pages (at the link above) if you’re curious.

It’s the story of Gordo, a drug addict who takes crime scene photos to buy drugs, in a world where the only sun is artificial. He stumbles across a murder victim and gets her stuck in his head. When he sets out to find out more about her, he’s warned away. Presumably, in future issues, he’ll solve the mystery.

I kinda wonder what the history of the project is. There are three writers listed: Michael J. Ruiz-Unger is given “created by” and “story by” credits. Story is also by Matthew Mongelia and Tucker Tota, while Tota gets “written by”. (Mongelia is not listed as a creator on the website; the other two make short films together.) The art is all by Sebastián Piriz.

So, the mistakes: This is a first issue. It sets out the atmosphere and elements of the premise, but there isn’t enough story here to satisfy a reader who may not ever see another issue. Dark Beach is intended to be a limited series of five or six issues, but the best Tota could tell me about future plans was that issue #2 will be out in a couple of months.

Dark Beach #1

I know comic economics are tough. The first issue was Kickstarted at the beginning of the year and made over its goal, good for them. But if you’re going to use crowdfunding and not meet a regular schedule, then you need to put more content in your single issues, in my opinion, and perhaps even some resolution. Particularly when you’re working with genre and some of your scenes are already familiar — hero alone in a dark room at night philosophizing, getting beaten up by a mysterious tough guy with a warning — as a result.

Setting out ambitious storytelling plans is necessary for readers who are no longer willing to settle for the mediocre, but at the same time, you have to keep in mind how well your comic is going to come across to someone who isn’t signing on for the whole shebang. Or, alternately, you could publish your complete story at one time, but that requires more up-front costs.

My other major concern isn’t necessarily a error, but… there are three women in the book. One is a dead body wearing only a bra and panties. Another, a waitress who exists solely to explain the title and give our guy a key clue location. The last, a tough bar owner who serves a similar exposition function. Only two of them get names. With so many comic choices out there, I don’t have a lot of patience for stories that fall back into an old-fashioned “men take action and have character, women are plot devices” structure. That’s just not the kind of comic I’m going to purchase or enjoy.

Still, the art here is better than that I see in similar projects, with sometimes complex layouts that do put more information on the page than your standard six-or-so-panel grids. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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