Sweet things and murder in New Orleans – Sweets issue 1
By Kody Chamberlain
Sweets is a creator owned mini series spawned from the mind of artist Kody Chamberlain. Based around the idea of a serial killer terrorizing New Orleans days before Hurricane Katrina makes landfall this is a passion project for Chamberlain as he takes on both the role of artist, writer and even letterer.
As a first time writer Kody Chamberlain brings something fresh to the world of comic books. Straight laced crime books have their fair share of space on comic book and graphic novel shelves but good ones are few and far between. Kody brings us a crime book that isn’t trying to be written as a hard-edged, hard-boiled book with supernatural elements or anything else thrown in for good measure. This book feels like real people having real conversations, which some writers seem to struggle with.
(Sweets page 1 – pecan pralines and murderous intent. From Sweets issue 1, by Kody Chamberlain, published by Image Comics)
The book opens with the identity of the killer and his latest victim as well as a recipe for pecan pralines, a local recipe in New Orleans, and a nice way for Chamberlain to establish both the New Orleans setting. Giving away the killer is an unusual route for Chamberlain to take perhaps but I think this is to show this is about police finding a killer and solving a realistic crime.
As it’s an introductory issue we’re introduced to several characters and hopefully we’ll see more development on all of them but especially Curt as a father who has just lost his daughter in a hit and run. I’m sure more about this incident will be revealed as the issues go on. The best written character though is the lieutenant who embodies every hard nosed boss of policemen you have ever seen in movies, television or read about in books and Kody channels them all into one person.
(The first murder in Sweets issue 1, by Kody Chamberlain, published by Image Comics)
Kody’s art style certainly reminds you of Ben Templesmith (Richard butting in… and maybe even some Sean Phillips?) even if the style is a little simpler and with a lighter tone. The panel layout is fairly simple but as Kody is taking on so much with this book, building what could be a fairly complex story it could be that he doesn’t want to confuse his readers and himself. Undecipherable panel layouts along with complex stories can have a habit of spoiling books that have the potential to be great.
The colour palette of the book suits it perfectly. It’s an expected thing nowadays to give a book like this a dark and moody palette but Kody goes the opposite way by giving the book a refreshingly realistic set of colours. The book takes place outdoors in the daytime or indoors in well lit offices so it isn’t a case of trying to figure out what is going on through a haze of blacks, greys and browns.
All in all Sweets is a fantastic first issue of what could potentially become an incredible little crime series by a new and fresh writer. This is exactly the sort of thing the comics world needs instead of re-hashing the same old stuff from the same old big publishers. It’s intriguing to see how much the backdrop of the hurricane Katrina stricken city of New Orleans will add to this story and hopefully the town will become a character in itself.
Sweets #1 should hopefully still be available on the shelves of your local comic shop. Issue #2 is out on the 19th August. More examples of Chamberlain’s work are available from his Flickrstream and his production blog. There’s also an interview at Newsarama where Chamberlain talks about the importance of New Orleans for his story.