Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chronic Review: Turf # 1

Turf # 1
Image Comics

Script: Jonathan Ross
Pencils: Tommy Lee Edwards
26 pages (+1 page of Millar-spiel)for $2.99

I just don't have the mental reserves to attempt a re-creation at the first review I did of this book. So I've decided to mix things up a bit and run this as a Q&A and see what happens.

Q: So what's all this hullaballo regarding Turf - why is this a "Buzz Book"?

A: In the states, this is just another Image book nobody will read. But over in Jolly Olde, Jonathan Ross is a pretty big deal. In England they call television hosts "presenters", and Ross is about as popular as they get. He's got a standard talk show and also does movie reviews.

So over here, nobody gives a rat's ass. But in the UK, this would be the equivalent of Jay Leno or David Letterman starting his own comic. Forbidden Planet in London ordered more copies of this book than they've ever ordered anything ever. That's the level of interest we're talking about.

Q: OK, so what's the book about, then?

A: Turf was solicited as a gang war book populated with goons, vampires, and aliens set in prohibition era New York. That's exactly what it is.

Q: Sounds pretty wild.

A: That's not a question, but I'll run with it. It is pretty wild. I will sometimes talk nebulously about books that radiate "energy", and this is one of those comics. It doesn't just lay there dead, and this is not a guy slogging through his prose earning a paycheck. This is a ridiculous, over-the-top science fiction horror extravaganza.

To his credit, Ross plays it pretty straight. There are moments, particularly when the vampires start talking, that Turf comes dangerously close to being just silly. For the most part, the story plays out in mostly realistic and often brutal fashion.

Q: What does a bloody Limey know about 1920s New York?

A: Enough, I guess. Like I said, sometimes the vampire speech gets a bit over-the-top. But as far as the gangster/period talk goes, that never bothered me or pulled me out of the story. I'm not a linguist or a historian, so for all I know, he completely botched it. It all sounded reasonably authentic to me. There was nothing problematic about the period stuff. At least not for me.

Q: But there were some problematic items?

A: Well, sure, nothing is perfect except Kate Beckinsale. Ross is a television presenter by trade, not a comic book writer. Being new to the medium, he's written enough dialogue and exposition to choke a hippo. It gets so bad in places that the panels look absolutely absurd, because the word balloons have completely covered up Tommy Lee Edwards' art.

I'm not an art critic or a cinematography guy. So when Ryan notices that's pretty bad. But listen, I don't consider it a deal breaker. Bottom line is that all of those words add an extraordinary value to the book. It took me almost 20 minutes to read this thing. I think I can read the entire "Old Man Logan" arc in that time.

I would be concerned if all of those words were dull and lifeless. They are not. I actually like the character of Eddie Falco, and there's a kind of infectious madness about the thing. Jonathan Ross is not an idiot. He will look at issue 1, recognize the issue, and iron it out. In the meantime, you're getting 6 times the story you normally do. Darn.

Q: So Jonathan Ross actually has some chops?

A: Damn straight. This is not Mayhem, for fuck's sake. He may not have a history writing comics, but he's still a writer, and it shows. Turf is a little bit odd, but you know what? That's a good thing. I used to bitch about Roger Ebert a lot, because his reviews seemed to favor anything that different, regardless of what I considered to be quality.

And now I get it. You watch enough of the same old movies, you read enough of the same old comics, you get sick of it. Give me something different, please. Turf is different. This will be the only comic you read this month featuring a guy putting his cigarrette out on a dead hooker's ass. That's a good thing.

My assessment is that Turf has some warts, but the beast is healthy and shows promise. I like books where the writer's passion bleeds out of the pages, and this is one of those. Jonathan Ross does not need to be doing comic books, folks. This is a labor of love, and it's actually a comparatively cost-efficient bit of fun.

- Ryan

PS: As mentioned on Market Spotlight, it may not be a bad idea to have a copy of Walking Dead # 70, featuring the first appearance of Turf in preview form. When Chew hit hard, the Kirkman preview instantly spiked to around $20. It wouldn't be out of the question to see a similar result here if interest peaks on this title.


Chronic Insomnia said...

ALWAYS write your review in another program and then import it dude, NEVER write in a blog program, it's a bad idea. Wipe those tears away and realize how bad of a comic book this actually was. The dialog was kind of bad at times and it didn't GO ANYWHERE. I was disappointed. Perhaps I should read the WHOLE thing though, I could only suffer through about 2/3 of it, then I put it down cause I was getting drowsy. Poor execution of a mediocre idea.

Jesse said...

Would it have been better if it was penciled by Tommy Lee Jones?

Chronic Insomnia said...

Wouldn't everything be better if Tommy Lee Jones penciled it? I think so.