On the inside front cover of Smoke and Guns, the new graphic novel from AiT/Planet Lar, there is the following quote from the series, “That’s it. Nobody shoots my shoes.” That quote was an excellent choice to place there, as it sums up the spirit and style of this comic perfectly.
The book is written by Kirsten Baldock and illustrated by Fabio Moon, and I do not know who contributes more to the mood created in the comic, as they work together quite smoothly. The conceit of the comic is that an uneasy truce exists between all the cigarette girls in the city. There is no problem so long as everyone sticks to their district. Go beyond your district, and you become a walking target. Scarlett is a cigarette girl who does not like to see her sales restricted by some decision that she was not even a part of, so she decides to go wherever she pleases to sell…and bloody, bloody chaos ensues.
This is a book that is almost all style, but while that may be considered a drawback in SOME titles, in this one, it works, because style is almost a commodity in this world that Baldock and Moon have created for us, and if that is true, then Scarlett and her Cowgirl-outfitted friend Annie are by far the richest cigarette girls in town. In fact, in the blazing battles between cigarette girls (like the ones dressed like cheerleaders, or the Asian ones), it often seems that Scarlett survives ON her style…as the odds are certainly stacked against her.
Moon does a nice job with the countless action scenes, giving the violence a certain cartoon quality without going overboard. In addition, as the book is black and white, it is good to note that Moon makes strong use of shadows when appropriate, but does not use shadows when they are NOT appropriate. It sounds like a minor thing, but I do not think that it is.
Baldock writes the characters to all fit the archetypal cartoon-esque roles as well, and she gives Moon some very creative scenes to draw. Of particular impressiveness is the finale…the writer and artist work together to create a note-perfect mood that neither of which could achieve by their lonesome.
Smoke and Guns came out this Wednesday. It costs thirteen bucks.