Dave Chisholm's Let's Go to Utah! surprised me - I thought it was going to be one thing, and it was a whole other thing entirely.
I first came across Dave Chisholm's work when he tried out for last year's Comic Book Idol. Taking a look at his sample pages, I thought his work had a nice, Oni-esque quality to it - sort of like a Jason Alexander or a Steve Rolston.
Here is a page that reminded me of them...
However, when I actually read the first three issues of Let's Go to Utah!, his style really wasn't like those fellows at all - it was a lot sketchier, and to be honest, I think less polished.
His layouts were quite nice, but the execution of the strong layouts seemed lacking to me - almost unfinished at times.
Take this establishing shot of one of the two main characters of the title...
The scene is set nicely, but the facial expressions are not really defined well.
And look at the anatomy of the character in the following page...
The proportions seem to be way off and the anatomy doesn't seem to follow, either. The demon part of the drawing is executed nicely, though.
The finale of the first issue is handled well...
But really, thoughout the story, there is a great unevenness to the art. Chisholm tells his story well with the artwork, but the actual figures are uneven - some look a good deal more polished than others. This is almost certainly a matter of experience - bad storytelling is far more troublesome of a problem than uneven execution, so I have no doubt that Chisholm will improve in the art department (and he does get better as the issues move on).
However, while I was not expecting much out of the story department, Chisholm surprised me with a pretty strong story (especially for such a simple concept). The book stars a young college student named Dave who begins to have horrible nightmares that push him towards Utah, of all places. Eventually, Dave resolves to head to Utah, but since he needs a ride to get there, a friend of a friend of a friend named Lief volunteers to drive, and hilarity ensues - as Lief is not exactly all right in the head, but his piccadilos are not just "speeds" or "won't chip in for gas" but rather "kills people."
Chisholm handles Dave's reaction to what is going on quite nicely, especially when Dave escapes, only to find that he might be better off with the devil he knows.
It's not exactly heady stuff, but it is a fun story that takes full advantage of the serial nature of comics, as each stop on the way can be an issue, more or less.
So while his art needs improvement (and he is getting there), Chisholm's story is intriguing.
If you're interested in this series (#4 JUST came out), you can buy them at IndyPlanet here.