“Footprints” has a decent enough premise to lure me in: Bigfoot sets out to solve the murder of the Yeti. Comic readers of the past decade or so shouldn’t find this too revolutionary a concept, but might be inspired to check it out considering that Bigfoot has had prominent roles in such enjoyable titles as “Perhapanauts” and “Proof.”
“Footprints” is a Sasquatch of a different stripe altogether. Presented as a murder mystery, Joey Esposito’s story has a distinct noir bent that carries throughout the title, in both flashbacks and modern day. Bigfoot, who is more often than not referred to as “Foot” or “Mr. Foot,” is a private investigator, specializing in finding those that don’t want to be found. Except Bigfoot himself has spent a significant amount of time trying to stay out of sight and out of mind of other beings he formerly called “friend” and “teammate.”
Those other cryptids involved in this adventure include: Bigfoot’s brother, Yeti; Nessy, the Loch Ness Monster (or a variation thereof); the Jersey Devil; Choop, a chupacabra; a giant shark known as Megalodon; and Motheresa, a re-imagined Mothman. Esposito sews discord between the group and explains the origins of that friction in parallel to the broader mystery of finding Yeti’s killer. Many of those cryptids have parts to play and abilities that called into use over the course of the story, such as the Jersey Devil flying Bigfoot or Nessy using her shape-shifting abilities to further the mission. Nothing in this story, however, calls upon Bigfoot being Bigfoot. He easily could have been Yeti with Bigfoot the victim of murder or Jim Rockford with absolutely no connection to this world save he knows the cryptids.
That said, Bigfoot as the narrator and protagonist works as a hard-boiled character with a tough exterior wrestling with internal demons and doubts. Esposito gives Bigfoot purpose and a reason to call upon his former crew, but not enough personality to push past the abrasiveness established early in this adventure. That results in a handful of characters who interact and share a common past with Bigfoot, but they really don’t care that much about one another.
Jonathan Moore’s art is well-suited for the noir-ish aspects of this story, playing in shades of gray accented with stark shadows. The storytelling is undemanding and direct, with the figures filling the space and backgrounds settling in around them. One of the challenges of a grayscale story is being able to separate from characters and action from their settings and Moore addresses that nicely, however, the line work for the figures is frequently very scratchy and rough. While that certainly fits the atmosphere of “Footprints,” it also makes the characters less engaging and at times makes their expressions murky. I’m curious what a stronger, heavier, smoother line would do for the characters and the story.
“Footprints” is a decent offering from Esposito, Moore and Pruett. It is set up as the first of potentially more adventures and leaves the characters in a different place than where they started out. In my case, it also left me wanting to see some more Bigfoot adventures. If this course is followed, I’ll be checking in, but I hope Bigfoot gets to be more Sasquatch and less everyman.