By Night #1
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Christine Larsen
New series By Night from writer John Allison and artist Christine Larsen is about two friends who reunite after a few years, discover a parallel world, and decide to use it to make a documentary and hopefully get rich. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand this upon reading the debut issue until after I read a series summary via the publisher’s website. The portal which is main characters Jane and Heather’s means of access to said world does not appear until the end of the issue, and afterward, I still wasn’t sure if it was supernatural. If the description I read from the publisher’s site had been less explicit about the nature of the comic, I might have thought this was intentional and meant to draw readers in for the next issue to find out whether the portal was a portal or something more mundane, but because of the series description it’s a little irritating. Readers of a new series shouldn’t have to wait a month for the series to make its premise clear, but that seems to be exactly what By Night is doing.
It feels strange to complain about that aspect of the pacing, though, because otherwise, the pacing is excellent. This first issue provides enough of the characters’ motivations and the plotline to entice readers into wanting to see how the mysteries unravel. The dialogue, too, is well timed. From what I know of the rest of John Allison’s work – namely Giant Days – this is very much in keeping with his style. Conversations are peppered with cynically witty one-liners that continually lead into each other and endear the characters to the reader. Although cynicism is admittedly not my cup of tea Allison’s particular brand of it is charming.
Artistically, By Night is pleasing to look at. Strong, clear shapes and some top-notch shadowing and coloring work well with the cartoonish aesthetic to create a wonderful overall tone of charming-but-eerie. The visual and tonal effect of the portal which appears at the end of the issue especially embodies this, all other complaints about its relatively minor role in the issue aside.
By Night #1 is a good introduction to a series from one of my favorite writers. Despite my gripes with how the set-up is being done, it already presents a strongly structured narrative that promises to unfold in some entertaining ways. I can’t wait for next month’s issue for both good and not-so-good reasons.
By Night #1
A strong start to a new series that holds itself back by burying its premise.