Jon Pay Private Investigator

 JPPI   (BDP, 2002)

™ and © BDP

Jon Pay is a private investigator who takes on a group of bootleggers turned kidnappers in the post-Prohibition fictional town of Cob City. While the story might sound like the plot of some lame Saturday afternoon flick, it’s actually a wonderfully crafted comic book by a creator who grew up watching those very same movies.

Writer-artist C.A. Aabo’s lifelong passion for old gangster and detective films makes this comic book a genuine labor of love. The story doesn’t break any new ground in the 1930s private eye genre, but it does excel at faithfully emulating it with pristine detail. And, unlike many of those B-movies, this story is funny on purpose. And it avoids all the “it was a dark and stormy night” type clichés.

Deftly combining the simple, expressive style of Dan DeCarlo with the detailed backgrounds of George Pérez, Aabo pulls off the perfect combination of caricature and realism. A gangster’s 5 o’clock shadow is rendered as an Archie-style series of diagonal lines, yet the fashions and automobiles are carefully detailed — the kind of detail that is often lacking from work by the more manga-influenced artists. And it meshes seamlessly.

This is an extremely well-done, complete story — all in just 11 pages, another rarity, which is admirable for its brevity but heartbreaking for readers wanting more. Fans who are looking for an alternative to the overdone crime-noir scene will welcome this beautifully drawn, lighter tale, as will fans who miss the attention to detail that is hard to find in so many of today’s comics.

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