Andre Mateus and Rahil Mohsin’s The Big Sheep: A Farm Noir, a spoof on Raymond Chandler’s detective novel and subsequent film, The Big Sleep, is a Roger Rabbit-esque comic styled after film noir, complete with detectives (Spade the turtle and Mad Dog Marlowe) and a femme fatale in need of assistance (Linda the sheep). Centered around the kidnapping of the daughter of a local hotel chain tycoon, The Big Sheep’s tone is a mix of serious mystery and tongue-in-cheek humor; Spade shows genuine investment in the case, which makes for a compelling story, but the “rough crowd” is made up of fidgety, drug-dealing bunnies. Unlike film noir, this comic is fast paced; the story unfolds over only thirty pages, and the writers have managed to create a noir-feeling plot without inundating the reader with clues and minutia.
Mohsin’s art shows a deep familiarity with the conventions of the genre. The comic is in black and white and makes use of heavy shadows and other lighting effects that look deceptively simple on the page, but add both depth of field and ambiance. When I opened this document, I felt like I could almost hear a jazz sax playing in the background. Thick, heavy lines contribute to character design, giving Spade a haggard look that suggests he’s been staying up late and drinking and smoking too much - all of which make him an excellent noir detective.
Overall, the story is interesting and fun (and even a little cute!).