This is an interesting exercise in format: a 20-page comic telling a standalone, self-contained story. I think it’s a smart type of project for the small press scene. Given how often we see issue #1s of ongoing epics that are never completed, it may be a better play for creators starting out on the independent scene to divise a complete story with a beginning, middle and end, all contained within a single comic book, so that the process of making that comic lets the creator get a complete narrative under their belt. It’s something I’d like to see more aspiring writers I know attempt, and is something I’ve considered experimenting with myself. LP is the latest example of the format to impress me, with writer Curt Pires and artist Ramon Villalobos concisely crafting an immersive world with an engaging story.
In many ways, Curt Pires’ narrative remains elusive throughout. There is much left unrevealed, or only implied about the secrets of the mysterious record and the powers it gives F, the protagonist of the story. That’s the thing about such a finite narrative: there’s not much time for world-building, and so you have to rely on a lot of storytelling shorthand and throw your reader right into the mix. “Throwing the reader right into the mix” is an understatement for the opening Pires hits us with in LP, starting with a crazy first page that evokes the ludicrously brutal violence of Luthor Strode, setting up a crazed tableau and then going back to tell us the story of how we get there. F is a taciturn figure, and though we get some insight into what’s going on in his troubled mind in the early pages of the story, as we progress it feels like we get pushed more to arm’s length. Nevertheless, the story quickly grabs your attention and holds it throughout, and although Pires keeps many of his cards close to his chest, it evidently has a “less is more” effect in giving us a world and characters all the more intriguing for their mystery.
But perhaps the real standout here is artist Ramon Villalobos. Channelling the fascinatingly odd stylings of Nick Pitarra, Villalobos treats us to some trippy visuals, presented with stylish layouts and a strikingly minimalist colour scheme. The script calls upon Villalobos to pull off some pretty ambitious visuals and approach certain scenes from offbeat, unconventional angles, but he pulls off each challenge with aplomb, emerging by the end of the comic as an exciting new artistic voice I’m very keen to see more from.
This is the first comic I’ve reviewed in 2013, and I’d say it marks the year as off to a good start. This is the kind of smart, cool, professionally-presented creator-owned comic I’d like to see more of in the months to come.
LP is available to buy from Curt Pires’ website.