Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 279: Hawaiian Dick #1

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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 279: <i>Hawaiian Dick</i> #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month (for a while) I will be showing pages chosen by you, the readers. Today’s page is from Hawaiian Dick #1, which was published by Image and is cover dated December 2002. This page was suggested by commenter Rolacka, which is not (shocking!) his real name! Enjoy!

B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin’s Hawaiian Dick is a nifty little 1950s detective book, full of clichés, but because Moore plays it to the hilt, the clichés become somewhat endearing. Moore managed to get out three mini-series (with mostly Griffin on art for the first two and Scott Chantler on the third), but then it went away. It’s just a damned shame.

All Moore tells us on this page is the setting – the Pali Highway in Hawaii – and the date, 1953. That’s enough for now, because it’s not like it’s a complicated page – Griffin is showing a carjacking. The first panel sets the tone well, as Griffin draws the car flying off the road. Without any sound effects or narration, we know already that whoever is driving the car is frantic. In Panel 2, we get a better sense of this, as the car comes around the bend with brakes squealing. Griffin does something clever – he draws the scene from pretty much the same point of view, so that the fact that the car is in a different position helps create a sense of motion. The way the highway is angled helps push our eyes from the left to the right. The car in Panel 2 is moving from left to right, and the glow from the headlights is moving our eyes to the shadowy figures in the foreground. In Panel 3, Griffin shows the car fishtailing, and notice that he letters the sound effects backward – from where the skid begins to where it ends. It’s not the best way to show the panel, because it goes against the natural flow of how we read, but it’s a very clever use of the sound effects, and if we start with the “s,” our eyes move along the “text” and come to rest at the three figures on the side of the road. The car is still facing the “right” way, leading us to the right and onward to Panel 4. The light source is a bit odd – there’s a wide circle of light illuminating the three dudes, but it doesn’t appear to come from the car’s headlights, because that would be all wrong. I very much doubt it’s moonlight, either. Presumably Griffin put the light in so that the three dudes on the side of the road would be lit dramatically, but I’m not sure where the light is coming from.

Panel 4 moves in for a close-up, and Griffin does a nice job getting all the people into the panel. The light source is again suspect – it appears to be emanating from inside the car, maybe? The dude jumping on the hood is lit from the back, so who knows, while the dude by the driver’s side is lit from the front. The dude by the driver’s side has obviously snatched the pistol away from the dude driving the car and has flung it upward, and Griffin gives the guy in the car a nice terrified look. Finally, in Panel 5, Griffin stretches things out a bit, with the car on the left spewing dirt and rocks over the man who was driving the car and leading us toward Page 2. Even without Moore’s words, we might think to distrust the driver, as he’s carrying a gun. I suppose he could be a plainclothes police man, but it’s also likely he’s a bad guy who ran afoul of another bunch of bad guys in some way.

Griffin’s coloring throughout the book is wonderful, and while he doesn’t do too much on this page, the streaming of the headlights in Panel 3 and the nice painted dust in Panel 5 help make the book a bit more “realistic” even though Griffin’s pencil work tends to be a bit cartoony. Unfortunately, because this is at night, it’s tough to see Griffin’s gorgeous coloring, but you could always track down the trades or the issues if you want to see more of it!

Moore reads the blog occasionally. If he is, I’d like to say that we’d like more Hawaiian Dick, please! That would be swell!

Next: DC brings the funny! And, as usual from this era, Keith Giffen is somehow involved! Find more Giffen stuff in the archives!