Freakshow #5, 6, 7 and 8
Written by Robert Curley
Artists: Stephen Mooney (#5, #8); Stephen Thompson (#6, #7)
Publisher: Atomic Diner, 2 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
B&W, US Size
Freakshow is a gothic noir comic set in 1950’s New York and follows four misfits and one beguiled ghost who form the core of a supernatural detective agency looking into the underbelly of American society. created by Robert Curley.
A group of people come together to investigate the weird, joined by a ghost with a grudge against one of the party. These four issues comprise disparate tales inspired by pulp fiction, The X-Files and, I suspect, TV’s The Avengers, as the investigators tackle a time-jumping thief, move to New York and take on an unfriendly ghost, a killer undertaker and, it seems, Egyptian deities.
There’s a clear love of Americana and plenty of enthusiasm behind these stories, but I found some of the scripting in need of good editing and a demand for better exposition, and the art incredibly stylised and stilted, for all its strong figure work and faces. Of the two artists, Thompson seems the more accomplished, using more blacks and a stronger inking style; but both suffer from a lack of depth to establishing shots, and action sequences need more work. (Both artists remind me of American artist Gene Day on an off day).
That said, the stories have an intriging ongoing back story and the women of the strips are engagingly drawn. There’s also a good use of “change of camera angles” from Mooney, which makes “talking heads” scenes much more interesting. Sadly, he over uses close ups, and should pull away from the central action to break up pages more.
There’s a strong sense of design to Freakshow but my feeling is that all concerned should loosen up a little and have even more fun with the characters and settings than they are doing.
• Update: Trade Paperbacks of Freakshow – 14 issues of the title were published by Atomic Diner
• A six-page story created by Curley and Mooney in aid of Amnesty International was also published
Atomic Diner was set up in 2004 by Robert Curley primarily to produce and publish a line of cross genre titles from horror to detective and of course good time super hero’s. The company was 100 per cent independent and prided itself on good story telling from Ireland’s top creators. It helped launch the careers of artists such as Stephen Mooney, Declan Shalvey, Will Sliney, Stephen Thompson and Bob Byrne and worked with creators such as Terry Kenny, Maura McHugh, Stephen Daly and Gareth Gowran.
Their titles included Freakshow,Atomic Rocket Group 66 and Gerry Hunt’s In Dublin City all to positive sales and reviews. Other projects included Roisin Dubh, Formation 7, Abigail Williams, Glimmer Man, Broken and The Wyndham Twins“. They also ran the Free Irish Comic Day in Ireland