Comic Review: Stringers #1

Stringers #1
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Justin Greenwood
Colors by Ryan Hill
Letters by Crank!
Oni Comics
Release Date: August 26, 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Oni Press focuses on publishing what they dub “real mainstream,” avoiding superhero tropes. Stringers is a new dramatic series that gathers the talents of Marc Guggenheim, Justin Greenwood, and Ryan Hill. Guggenheim has a long list of writing credits that span Marvel, DC, video games, and Hollywood screenplays, and he’s a co-showrunner of Arrow. Stringers is the second title he’s launched with Oni Press, which publishes Stumptown, also drawn by Justin Greenwood, colored by Ryan Hill, and lettered by Crank!

In Stringers #1, main characters Nick and Paul eavesdrop on their police scanner, and race through LA to film tragic events and sell the footage to television news programs, a la Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. The story jettisons forward at the speed of a car chase, and the frames literally step on each other as the panels tumble ahead toward the next page, accumulating a respectable body count along the way. Supporting characters fade in and out appropriately: a sleazy rival stringer, Paul’s girlfriend, and a local news producer (Nick’s love interest?). In only 26 pages, the series kicks off with several intriguing plot lines.

What elevates this issue above your other options? Plenty of authentic banter bring the characters to life. Playful splashes of text communicate the sound effects in jumbled, literal descriptions like “Ball out chase at 90 mph” and “A two ton curb weight cruiser going end over end.” It’s a risky strategy, but the creative team pulls it off. The limited color palette reinforces the noir mood of the story. You can feel the old fluorescent bulbs robbing color from the interior shots. The street lights and headlights bleach color from the shadows in exterior frames.

After spending $3.99 on this issue, you’ll want to read #2 to find out what bad news Paul is waiting to tell Nick, what’s on the encoded thumb drive they took from a dying gangster, and if these two underdog Stringers can survive the night, let alone achieve their dreams of wealth and legitimacy.

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