Friday, April 29, 2011

Bigfoot, Murder and Mayhem; a Review of Footprints #1

For those not in the know, my buddy over at, Mr. Joey Esposito, has written a comic. And it's amazing. Between Esposito and artist, Jonathan Moore, we're given a true Noir tale that rivals the best of the industry's 'who-done-it' epics. And I've only read the first book.

The basic premise of Footprints is this; Bigfoot's brother Yeti is murdered, and he leaves behind clues as to who and why. We find that "Mr. Foot", as he is sometimes called, is a detective of sorts and he's eager to get the old gang back together to sort things out.

Bigfoot's team consists of The Jersey Devil, El Chupacabra, The Loch Ness Monster, and Megalodon. The story also hints at a Moth Woman being involved, but that character has yet to make a physical appearance. While a detective and information gathering team consisting entirely of crypto zoological characters is exciting enough, the characterization of each one is simply astounding.

This is no Harry and the Hendersons Bigfoot. Esposito's Foot is highly intelligent and has a nice dusting of brooding recluse to boot. The story hints of a falling out the team had which may have a lot to do with Bigfoot's solitary attitude. He's not the "plays well with others" type of fellah. He's a strong character, and an interesting choice for playing the leader. Definitely more of a Wolverine than a Captain America. As a huge fan of Wolverine and the X Men, I appreciate this choice greatly.

The second character we're introduced to is the Jersey Devil. Devil is the Falstaff of the Cryptids. He's loud, he's a drunk, and he's an idiot most of the time. Oh, did I mention he has a Jersey accent? Yes, it's the most amazing thing ever. It's rare that I actually laugh out loud when reading, but Footprints' Jersey Devil got a giggle out of me.

Normally I would lump the fool character in with people I don't like; like Toad and Antman (barring Antman's "reinvention" in Earth's Mightiest Heroes). This isn't the case with the Devil character. In true Noir fashion, Footprints is a dark story. Devil provides some comedy relief but not the stupid kind that makes you face palm constantly. So if you're like me and you easily dislike characters who provide idiocy, don't be discouraged. The Jersey Devil is written exactly as all comedy relief should be; borderline offensive and always getting its ass kicked.

The Loch Ness Monster is the female character in the group. They call her Nessy, and she can change her size at will. I thought that was a clever invention of the author as this allows her to intermingle with her cast members outside the water. Nessy is a strong, independent female character. She's in a relationship with Megalodon, but you get the sense that he's much more committed to it than she is.

She uses her feminine wiles to gather information, and keeps Devil in his place. She's the outspoken character who questions the methods of their fearless leader when her partners are either too scared, or too close to Bigfoot to say what needs to be said. She's the foil to the Jersey Devil's almost puppy-like devotion to Mr.Foot.

Megalodon is a gigantic shark.(Which is just awesome without having to add any depth of character.) However, this gigantic shark is the most eloquent member of the cryptid team. He's what I like to call "dimwittedly intelligent." As mentioned before he's head-over-heels for the spitfire, Nessy and he's quite soft spoken for such a huge character. He adds a certain amount of innocence to the team, despite his hunger for flesh. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing 'Don' bite someone in half. (Which could be you, if you pledge $250 to their Kickstarter campaign.)

The last, and weirdest, of Foot's team is the Chupacabra. He's the muscle of the gang. If someone needs threatened, the grunting lizzard-pig demon thing is happy to do the job. Some might say he is an unnecisary part of the team, but really, I think he's a terrific addition. Each player in Bigfoot's team has a specific role. Chupacabra is Foot's "little friend" so to speak. He's compact so he can go anywhere, and he can do a lot of damage. It's not like he could lug a tank full of Megalodon into the middle of nowhere to scare the piss out of a potential source; and while the Jersey Devil can talk big, you get the feeling that he's not quite capable of really intimidating someone, let alone causing a lot of damage.

Like I mentioned before, this story is amazing in its originality. I love comic books, but so many times we get the same-old super hero rehash garbage. Hell, even the "edgy" stuff is getting predictable. There's something to be said for an author who is willing to dive into risky subject matter head-first and come out with something wonderful. After reading the first book, I'm dying to read the rest.

Esposito gives you enough that you're not completely confused. I don't know about you guys, but the X Men Noir series did that to me. I was left trying to tie up loose ends that sometimes went nowhere anyway. Footprints is nothing like that. At the same time, you're left guessing about what's going to happen. From the look of it, I can imagine there's a lot of surprises in store for the rest of the story.

Let's take a moment to talk about the art, shall we? It's beautiful. Artist Jonathan Moore did his homework. The artwork is something you haven't seen in any comic book you're picking up on a weekly basis. I can only imagine how long it took to draw each and every panel, as they're each a work of art. The character design is completely original.That's saying something when you're drawing pictures of Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster who have been done over and over.

The book is done in black and white and Moore's style includes a lot of stark contrast, like the films of old. My favorite detail is that you can see Moore's brush strokes. He drew the comic in a paint-like style that gives it extra character and beauty. Stunning.

I can't praise the book enough. (No, I'm not being paid to say that, it's just that good.) Probably the most astounding part of it, is that it has been a "ground up" project from the get-go. They've published issue one of their own power, and they have a campaign going to finance the rest of the book. Now that's gumption. You have to admire a couple a nerds who have the energy and the confidence in what they've created to strike out on their own and get their work to the masses.

Hold the phone, guys, you can be part of this amazing project! That's right, Joey and Jonathan still need help backing their Kickstarter (click to view the Kickstarter page) campaign. You can read issue #1 in its entirety before backing, if you so choose. Every dollar helps, guys. Also, tweet it and post it on your facebook. Why the hell not? After reading number one, I assure you you're going to want to read the rest. PLUS! You get super cool rewards for pledging your help! Don't miss out! There's only a little over a month left to get this book the exposure and publishing it so rightly deserves.

Before I wrap this up, I'd just like to say thanks to Joey and Jonathan. Not only have they really created something cool and original, but they also remain humble and accessible to the people who help them out. You won't be "just a backer" with these guys. They actually take the time to see who has backed them and show their gratitude in whatever way they can. In a time when so many people just get steam rolled by the industry, I think it's really important for us to keep the "little guys" alive, especially if they have the dedication to their story that Joey and Jonathan have shown.

Really, go to the Kickstarter, read issue one of Footprints, and do what you can to help. Any feedback about it after you read it is welcome in the comments section, even if you didn't like it. (I doubt that would happen, but everyone is different.) As always, thanks for reading. You guys are the best.


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