The Big Comic Con by the team of writer Colin Maxwell and artist Michael Philip is an amusing story about a down on his luck nerd’s misadventurous foray into high-end comic thieving. When main character Chris is laid of from his job only to learn that his father David has just gotten in with a loan shark, his best friends Mark and Sophie come up with a plan to steal a millionaire’s comic collection on display at the local convention. It’s a quirky, nearly farcical story that feels like the sort of thing a group of twenty-something nerds would come up with one evening.
Now while the story itself is amusing, it’s far from perfect. At 35 pages of story it’s hefty for a single book, but despite that the pacing feels very rushed. The events of the narrative play out so quickly that it’s difficult to get a proper grasp on the situation or come to sympathize with any of the characters on a deeper level. For example, David has cancer, which is obviously sad, but it doesn’t come into the narrative except to create financial strain on the family and drive the plot forward and the quick pacing keeps us from getting a feel for how that’s impacted, say, his relationship with his son. Basically, he’s more of a plot device than a character. Additionally the tone of the story goes back and forth between drama and farce, as the central premise, recently unemployed nerd decides to achieve financial stability by robbing comic con, clashes with the background elements, like David having cancer. It feels like the creators were trying to blend the two together to create a funny, heartwarming, dramatic story, but the quick pacing keeps the composite pieces from really sinking in the way they were supposed to. It’s a fun story, but it would have benefitted tremendously from having more breathing room in the narrative, maybe as a three or four issue arc or full length graphic novel.
The artwork is good overall, but has it faults. The big issue is that the backgrounds are usually monocolored, which gives the whole book a comic strip vibe. That’s good for the farcical elements, but undercuts the more dramatic elements of the story. The character design is good and the coloring their is vibrant and reminiscent of better Silver Age work. Some of the line work can be rough in places, but it works for the story and never gets in the way. On the whole it feels like a really long comic strip, which helps the sense of humor/fun show but works against the more dramatic parts.
Where the comic is best is when it focuses on Chris and his friends being comic nerds. The idea of having them rob comic con is clever on a host of levels and as a central premise carries the narrative past its rough patches. It was a fun read and worth checking out, and if you’d like to UK/Ireland readers can purchase the comic from http://www.maximized.co.uk/comics.html while the rest of us can purchase it from bulk packages with some of the publishers other work.