Narcoleptic Sunday (Oni Press)

narco-header.jpgA man tries to solve the murder of a woman who died in his bed. Now if only he could stop falling asleep all the time…

 

208 pgs. B&W; $14.95

(W: Jeremy Haun; A: Brian Koschak)

 

If you crack open the cover of Narcoleptic Sunday, the new graphic novel by Jeremy Haun and Brian Koschak, you might read the opening pages with a feeling of déjà vu. In the first chapter we are introduced to Jack, a hapless young guy who, after a chance encounter with a gorgeous woman named Jill, has found himself in bed with her. Basking in post-coital bliss, he drifts off to sleep, but eventually he is rudely awakened to the discovery that his beautiful bedmate has been murdered and he is the chief suspect in the crime.

 

In fairness to the book, the plot device that incites the conflict of this graphic novel was not exactly original when it was famously employed by Frank Miller in his first Sin City story. Still, it’s hard to read Narcoleptic Sunday, especially early on, and not find its plot slightly derivative. But what makes this story’s take on the classic mystery trope succeed is the unique twist the plot takes in explaining why Jack didn’t wake up when Jill was murdered. He wasn’t drugged or stone-drunk; he suffers from narcolepsy, as the book’s title implies.

 

The cover to Narcoleptic Sunday. Click for a larger image.This added dimension to the character creates great tension in the early chapters of the story, as Jack seems to fall asleep at the most inopportune times and is nearly always awakened by someone out to kill him. However, as the story presses on and this scenario replays itself through a number of variations, it eventually becomes a bit played out. By the final two chapters of the book it is a welcome change of pace that the momentum the story has gained does not afford Jack the opportunity to drift off for the umpteenth time.

 

The graphic novel’s pace is an issue of concern, as it seems the book was written like it was planned as an eight-issue miniseries and instead released as an original graphic novel. Thus, the cliffhangers that end each chapter tend to lose their effectiveness when the reader can simply turn the page and watch the scene unfold. But overall, the dialogue is solid enough to make the book a decent first effort at writing for Haun, who up to now has primarily been known as an artist for books such as Leading Man or Battle Hymn.

 

Similarly, Koschak’s art starts off very strong yet by the end seems a bit rushed, less detail-oriented than it had been in earlier chapters. In the final chapter, the page layouts switch from the standalone, single-page layouts used throughout the rest of the book to several double-page spreads coming one after the other. This change is a bit confusing at first, especially since the pages are printed with white spaces between them, interrupting the flow of each spread. This problem could be more of a production issue, however, rather than an issue with the art itself, and again had this device been used in a single issue of a comic rather than a chapter in a graphic novel, it might have worked a little better. Koschak’s figure work certainly can’t be faulted. The beautiful women that populate early chapters of the book set in a strip club are some of the sexiest characters I’ve seen in comics in quite some time, and the rugged, tough bouncers in these same scenes jump off the page menacingly.

 

Overall, Narcoleptic Sunday is a decent enough read that will surely please fans of mystery and noir. Despite not having anything necessarily new or inventive to offer plot-wise, it’s still an enjoyable thriller with its fair share of suspense and an ending that, even if it doesn’t come as a surprise, is executed well. At the very least, it is worth a look to see Koschak’s art in its early stages, for his budding talent seems like it will only continue to blossom from here. | Steve Higgins

To check out a whopping 22-page preview of Narcoleptic Sunday, visit

http://www.onipress.com/preview.php?bid=276&pid=143

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