Earp: Saints for Sinners #4 (Radical Comics)

This futuristic cowboy/sci-fi comic-as-movie-pitch wraps up in conventional territory.

 

26 pgs., color; $3.50
(W: M. Zachary Sherman, from a story by Matt Cirulnick; A: Colin Lorimer)
 
One thing I will say for the talents behind the Radical Comics series Earp: Saints for Sinners: they certainly are consistent. This series is one of the more blatant examples I’ve seen of a film pitch presented as a comic and the story winds up in issue 4 just as you might expect a high-concept action movie to do. As the story has already been sold to DreamWorks, we can probably expect to see a high-concept blockbuster based on this comic in a year or two and then we can judge which medium was better suited to the story. I don’t want to come off as a Luddite and condemn a series just because of its obvious dependence on another art form because the truth is that many comics incorporate a cinematic style of storytelling, some more successfully than others. However, Earp is an extreme example of the storyboarded comic, so if you enjoy that style of storytelling you may well enjoy this series, while if you prefer comics that are created for their own sake rather than as a means to some other end, you’ll probably want to give it a miss.
 
A quick refresher: Earp: Saints for Sinners is set in the near future in an America overrun by violence and in which justice is available only to those who can pay for it. It’s basically the Wild West but with deadlier weapons and faster means of transportation. Legendary marshal Wyatt Earp has retired and moved to Las Vegas, the country’s last remaining boomtown, to manage the A-OK Saloon, but soon finds himself called to his old profession as he is forced to confront a corrupt mayor as well as the Pinkerton Agency (who wants to sell him protection). For babe interest, you have Doc’s girlfriend Kate and Josephine the lounge singer (and thanks to the futuristic setting, they’re encumbered with much less clothing than their 19th century counterparts), for corrupt villains you have Mayor Flynn (of Los Vegas) plus Alan Pinkerton and his henchmen. Several other legendary characters also come into the story including Doc Holliday, Morgan Earp and Jesse James, so the premise holds real promise for an interesting mashup of western and sci-fi elements which might produce the kind of futuristic Western which was the apparent aim (only partially realized) of this summer’s Cowboys & Aliens.
 
Unfortunately instead of developing the intriguing possibilities of crossing the two genres, Earp has largely been content to follow well-known patterns for both characters and plot so that, while I still think the concept is genius, the series has become more disappointing with each successive issue. You get the expected big showdown in issue #4 (the Wyatt-Doc-James team vs. Flynn and Pinkerton), but the creative talents involved seem to be just going through the motions in order to finish off the series. I once heard someone say of an movie actor’s performance that "you could just smell the coffee waiting in his trailer" and the fourth issue of Earp has the same feel: everyone involved seems to have been in a hurry to get it done with the least amount of effort so they could get on to whatever they really wanted to be doing (whether working on the movie adaptation or just relaxing with a nice hot cup of coffee).
 
I could probably live with the conventional story arc if more effort had gone into the art. Some of it is quite good: issue #4 opens with a dramatic full-page frame making nice use of diagonals and many of the "location shot" frames are full of detail and quite intriguing. But the human characters are drawn crudely and there’s no effort to portray action (of which this story has plenty) in anything like a realistic fashion. Instead of seeing someone throw a punch, we see what appears to be a slightly-redrawn scan of an actor flexing his muscles while holding a pose of throwing a punch. Instead of seeing three-dimensional objects flying through the air, we see what appear to be flat cutouts pasted onto a pre-existing drawing. Even the blood splatter (and there’s plenty of that, also) lacks any basis of physical reality: it seems to have been painted on without regard for how fluids move in a world subject to the law of gravity.
 
You can see a preview of Earp: Saints for Sinners #4 here and read a bit about the movie adaptation here. | Sarah Boslaugh

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply