The next comic project in the pipeline from me will be The Edge Off, a new comic with my old pal and collaborator, And Then Emily Was Gone artist Iain Laurie. We’ve worked on many things together in the past (such as Mothwicke and Black Cape) but this time round, we’re doing a noir crime comic fused with Iain’s signature brand of unsettling, surreal dream logic. Imagine a Jason Statham movie directed by David Lynch and you’ll have some idea of what we’ve tried to achieve. Here’s a little run down on the story:
Mob enforcer Lee Butler was always the old man’s favourite, but now the old man is gone and Eddie, the son who always felt usurped by Lee, is calling the shots. When Lee wakes up to find himself spiked with a new designer psychotropic and his daughter kidnapped, he figures Eddie has worked out Lee’s been moonlighting for one of his rivals. Desperate to get his daughter back, Lee sets off into a swirling nightmare of danger and double cross, his perceptions fried, unable to tell which monsters are real and which are imagined. As the night unfolds, Lee finds himself compelled to run a violent gantlet towards a confrontation that will force him to face up to every terrible decision he’s ever made.
I’ve always been a big noir fan. I don’t think I’ve ever read a better novel than The Maltese Falcon. Hammett is a master of elegant economy; it’s the right word in the right place every time. There’s not a single ounce of fat. Many of my favourite films are from that really quite unbelievable era of Hollywood where talents like Chandler, Bogart, Bacall, Faulkner and Hawks could converge. I’m also a big fan of “one against the world” action films that often have a bitter little noir heart beating underneath all the punching, car wrecks and explosions.
But we didn’t just want to retread old, hard-boiled ground. Iain and I met at college in 1990 and bonded over comics and over an incredible new TV show that had everyone talking, Twin Peaks. In those pre-internet days it would dominate pub chats and break times as we’d pour over Empire articles and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer in search of clues to what was really going on. As a couple of working class lads from the arsehole of nowhere, we’d never really been exposed to anything quite so wilfully idiosyncratic before. It’s probably fair to say that David Lynch is Iain’s most profound influence. Alongside Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Terry Gilliam and Dennis Potter, Lynch informs almost everything Iain does as he’s refined his style from Iain Laurie’s Horror Mountain through And Then Emily Was Gone to his more recent astonishing avant-garde work.
Iain has a dark and fierce imagination, a tether to the howling maw at the pith of existence and he’s always had that rare ability to channel the imperceptible into his art. So that was all coming in too. There was no way to keep it out, really. And into that mix we threw the woozy thrum of Performance, the acid fried perplexity of Inherent Vice and the dour grime of British mob films like Get Carter and The Long Good Friday.
And what emerged is The Edge Off. A nightmare noir, that takes our main character on a terrifying journey he doesn’t even realise he’s on until it’s far too late for him to turn back.
We’ve roped excellent Glasgow colourist David Cooper in for the ride and rounding us out is ace letterer Colin Bell, who’s sterling work you’ve almost certainly seen if you’ve so much as glanced at a comic in the last few years.
We’ll be looking to crowdfund the printing costs of the comic in March or April, so if this sounds like your cup of mescaline infused tea, we’d be delighted to have your support.