Snow Blind #1 (of 4)
Written by Ollie Masters (@olliemasters)
Illustrated by Tyler Jenkins (@Jenkins_tyler)
Lettered by Colin Bell (@colinbell)
Review by Joey Braccino
“I didn’t tell him that sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own home.
That I felt more comfortable around the pages of dead authors than I do my own parents.”
Let me start by saying I’m a sucker for a solid crime comic. Aside from superheroes and slice-of-life, I feel like the medium is perfect for crime-stories and mystery. At the same time, I do feel like there is a glut of hard-boiled, gritty, urban drama. Those comics filled to the brims with fire escapes, dirty alleyways, seedy underbellies, and foul language—I could list a slew of really good noir comics set in the Big City. That’s one of the reasons why I was super excited to pull Ollie Masters and Tyler Jenkins’ Snow Blind today: this is an intrigue-filled noir set in the snow-drifts of South Henley, Alaska.
Our narrator is teenager Teddy Ruffins, a disillusioned young man who has a habit of breaking into libraries and questioning his father. I mean that literally—part of Teddy’s problem is that he honestly doesn’t understand who his father is and why he decided to uproot his family from Louisiana up to Alaska all those years ago. Our story starts as Teddy finally decides to take matters into his own hands and find out just who his father is. And that’s when things take a really, really dark turn.
Ollie Masters (The Kitchen, Veritgo) does a spectacular job of imbuing Teddy’s narration with that hard, pulpy edge. The disillusioned teenage malaise is there, of course, but Masters is careful to put Teddy into that “detective” role; at his core, Snow Blind’s protagonist is trying to uncover the truth. Everything else is just layers—layers that take the noir aesthetic and complicate it through setting, relationship, and a shocking cliffhanger ending.
Artist Tyler Jenkins (of Peter Panzerfaust fame) delivers a compelling, engaging visual experience from cover-to-cover. I was immediately struck by the similarities to some of Jeff Lemire’s scratchy style. Often, Lemire’s elevated naturalism matches the combination of brutal realism and moody ennui of the “heartland” setting; here, Jenkins’ imagery does much the same. There is a particularly shocking scene featuring the family dog that captures Jenkins’ uncanny ability to play with sequencing and shadows. The sequence helps to bring Teddy’s teenage questioning to something much more real in terms of the narrative, but it’s Jenkins’ choreography and color that truly affects the reader. Really brilliant stuff.
Finally, I just want to recognize Colin Bell’s lettering. Bell’s choice to draft Teddy’s narration in an almost typewriter font is inspired, especially when read alongside the off-kilter letters of the dialogue. Again, if a comic is an aesthetic experience that combines words and pictures, the letterer need to contribute to that intended effect as well, and Bell is one of the best.
BUY. Snow Blind is a riveting first issue to what promises to be a masterful piece of rural noir. From Ollie Masters’ layered narrative to Tyler Jenkins’ engaging artwork to Colin Bell’s scratchy lettering, Snow Blind #1 hits all the rights notes to make this mini-series from BOOM! a must-read this week. As if the Warren Ellis endorsement on the cover weren’t enough, right? Check it!