I love film noir. I love the seedy worlds, the anti-heroes, the clipped, witty dialogue. But, I think more than all of that I love the mystery: how people, places, and objects are never what they seem, how you always have the sense that you’re walking on a trap door and, at any moment, it all could drop out from under you. And, I love that, in the end, everything falls into place. It isn’t always how you want it to turn out. Heck, it isn’t often how you want it to turn out, but it always makes a funny kind of sense. Writer Jake Dickerman and artist Jason Pruett deliver all of that in spades in their new comic, Jimmy Brass: 2nd Grade Detective.
Dickerman and Pruett embrace all those noir elements and masterfully weave together a funny and entertaining tale of intrigue. Less a spoof of noir, Jimmy Brass is more a comedy that revels in applying the noir filter over the lens of elementary school life. It follows Jimmy Brass (duh!), a fedora-wearing second grader who is one part Sherlock Holmes, one part Sam Spade, and one part Calvin. Brainy, somewhat of an outcast, and armed with a keen sense of observation, he solves mysteries in and around his school accompanied by his partner/sidekick/bodyguard, Opal. Oh, Opal! Soon to be your favorite comic character ever, Opal is Jimmy’s hired muscle, an adorable kindergartner on a never-ending quest to hit something.
The art of Jimmy Brass: 2nd Grade Detective is awesome. It’s black and white, as any respectable noir comic should be, yet still manages to be vibrant and fun. Pruett’s characters are unique, wonderfully cartoony, and seem to leap off the page. His execution of facial expressions, action, and panel composition are superb. The writing in Jimmy Brass by Jake Dickerman is similarly alive, creating an exciting, new world and exploring it with a sense of joy and wonder. While Issue #1 is a completely satisfying story with a defined ending, the creators include several scenes that lay the foundations for a long-term arc, and I must admit I am now eagerly awaiting Issue #2!
Jimmy Brass: 2nd Grade Detective is one of the most fun, new books I’ve read recently. It’s the second all-ages book from new indie publisher WE Comics, and Issue #1 is available digitally for $1.