Blue Estate Vol. 1: Preserves (Image)

Five artists team up to tell a chaotic but fun modern noir story.



120 pgs., color; $12.99
(W: Andrew Osborne; A: Viktor Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robert Valley, Paul Maybury)
One thing I’ll say for Blue Estate, a new comic series created by Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev—it’s a lot of fun. I’ve never seen anything quite like this series, which is drawn by five different artists with contrasting styles. Fortunately, instead of being annoying, the visual chaos adds energy and reflects the world of the characters, where it’s not always clear where you are and who is on which side of shady. Even after four issues (collected as Blue Estate Preserves), I feel like the story is just getting started, so I’d have to say that the strength of this series so far is atmosphere rather than storytelling.
Blue Estate is a modern noir, set in a sleazy world of Russian mobsters, pole dancers, talent-free actors, and a hapless PI who can’t get over the fact that he’s not living up to the accomplishments of his legitimate detective father. It’s a world of big tits, suitcases full of cash, and electrodes attached to the nipples of people who get out of line. Blue Estate is a very self-aware, archly literate strip as well, with many references to pop culture (a big black guy named Marcellus, a pretentious action-movie star who looks remarkably like Steven Seagal, a false opening right out of Law and Order) and layers of meaning such that you often aren’t sure what to take seriously and what to classify as parody (sometimes both attitudes apply to the same material).
Viktor Kalvachev is the art director of Blue Estate, and he’s done a remarkable job in coordinating work among the various artists (five are listed in the credits, including Kalvachev himself) who draw the comic. He frequently switches artists within issues, lending a pastiche feel to the comic, but the characters are sufficiently stereotypical (and identified by obvious physical characteristics) that it’s not a problem to track them from one artist to the next. So far, the art is distinctive enough to keep me interested in the series, but I hope the storylines start to take off soon (four issues is a long time to spend introducing characters and contexts).
Blue Estate is for mature readers. You can read more about it, and see some samples of the art (definitely not Safe for Work) at the series’ web site and see more of Viktor Kalvachev’s work on his web site| Sarah Boslaugh

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