Tiki Joe Mysteries (SLG Publishing)

tikijoe-header.gifSend yourself back to the days when men were men, women wore toreador pants, and faux-Polynesian culture was all the rage.

 

96 pgs. B&W; $9.95

(W / A: Mark Murphy)

 

If you long to be touched by the hand of cool, 1950’s style, it’s time to hop into the time machine of Tiki Joe Mysteries and send yourself back to the days when men were men, women wore toreador pants, and faux-Polynesian culture was all the rage. Just speaking personally, I have fond memories of wasting more than a few hours getting wasted on those deceptively lethal drinks served in plastic coconut shells at the dear departed Trader Vic’s in Boston. But despite being older and wiser these days, occasionally I long to revisit my mis-spent youth, preferably without the killer hangovers this time.

Click for a larger image.Tiki Joe Mysteries, written and illustrated by Mark Murphy, contains two related stories about WW II veteran Joe Halliday. He manages the eponymous Las Vegas bar, dates a gorgeous babe, and solves crimes in his spare time with the aid of his war buddies Artie (the mechanical genius), Harry (the strong man) and Max (the sharpshooter). In the first story, Joe and his pals resist a shakedown by the mob. In the second, they help recover a stolen diamond and crack the mystery behind an all-female high-wire troupe. In both cases, the stories are absorbing, but true to their 1950’s roots you never lack assurance that the good shall prevail and righteous order will be restored before the story ends.

Part of the fun in Tiki Joe is spotting the many pop culture references. Remember Pussy Galore and her Flying Circus from Goldfinger? How about the original Ocean’s 11 caper? They’re all referenced here, along with Evil Knievel, the Rat Pack…and more which I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.

The art in Tiki Joe is high-contrast black-and-white in a retro style which fits the era and general tenor of the stories. Murphy’s work shows a lot of variety of scale, from extreme close-ups to extreme long shots, as they say in the Cinema Studies Department. Most of the art is detailed and realistic (in a stylized sort of way), but for a changeup there’s also some cartoony violence frames in campy Batman style (POW! BAM! KA-BOOOM!!!).

Further information and a free preview of Tiki Joe Mysteries is available from http://www.tikijoemysteries.com/NewFiles/thebook.html. | Sarah Boslaugh

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