cover image Visual Crime

Visual Crime

Jerry Moriarty. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (108p) ISBN 978-1-68396-408-7

Moriarty (Jack Survives) pays tribute to illustrators in a series of surreal painted and mixed media noir narratives. Artist Rotart Sulli gets sent to a cheap motel on assignment from the publisher of Visual Crime magazine. He makes its basement his studio, where he discovers a janitor senselessly burning toys and other “helpless things” in the furnace. The encounter proceeds as a thriller, complete with a climactic fight scene. It’s the first of several strange tales of revenge, murder, and plans gone horribly awry, all given violent twists. Within each, Moriarty veers from a thickly painted, neon-soaked color palette to scratchy, loosely rendered black-and-white lines, and sections where art frames plain-text pages as if ripped from a pulp paperback. His signature character drawings combine lack of affect with deep undercurrents of tension. The final piece observes Sulli getting an assignment to show his pages in his window, adding a weird layer of paranoia. (Moriarty draws this one in tight pencils, interspersed with spot colors.) For fans who’ve followed the artist since his first appearance in Raw as well as newbie art comics devotees, Moriarty delivers with edgy, absurdist unpredictability. (July)