Comic Review: The Ballad of Frank Sartre – Chapter One

“We’re just two guys trying to tell a story. We both share a punk, DIY ethos and we didn’t want the story watered down with the pressure of fitting into a demographic to turn a profit. Producing it 100% ourselves and giving it away gives us enormous creative freedom.”

THE BALLAD OF FRANK SARTRE – By James Peaty & James Reekie

“What have you done?”

Washed up club singer FRANK SARTRE is in the grip of depression. A depression fuelled by haunting, recurring dreams of a girl. A girl that holds the key to so many answers… yet seems forever out of reach.

As Frank fumbles around the surreal city of COSMOPOLIS, desperately trying to resurrect his career and find meaning, a mysterious killer is on the loose, terrifying the freaks and oddities that populate the metropolis. Intrepid reporter SAM PARADISE has smelt a connection, but can he join the dots between Frank and the killer before it’s too late?

The Ballad of Franke Sarte is just another reason why I love the Indie comics scene right now. I can’t go a day it seems without stumbling across another fantastic title that people should be checking out. In this case of web comic The Ballad of Frank Sartre we have two fellas with a bucket load of talent, lots of ideas and the passion to back it all up.

I must admit that with all the things I have going on at the moment I wasn’t going to review this, at least not right away. I had planned to put this up as a simple press release and do my bit to help out with the indie scene. I clicked on the link the guys provided, saw the first panel and swore because I knew they had me.  I felt compelled to click to the next page just to find out more, all the while telling myself’ ‘I’ll stop after the next page’. When I eventually did stop I had read the entire first chapter, the press release was deleted and I sat down to write this review.

The art in the comic has a kind of  slutty Sin City, by way of Gotham Central, feel and it fits the tone of the story really well as does the choice to have the comic in black and white. There are also  elements in the art that is similar to  Tommy Lee Edwards work on Turf.

To begin with I had this comic pegged as I kind of 1940’s noir style thriller and then I clicked to the next page, looked then looked again…yep I was right that was a Gorilla cab driver named Silas. I then flipped back a page and realized that this was a whole new world I was being introduced to.  Once I accepted the new status quo I never gave it a second thought. The world building within this first chapter feels real because it’s handled in a subtle fashion without huge pauses where the narrative stops to explain everything to the reader. We are thrown in at the deep end and expected to swim.  After a few pages I was paddling with the best of them.

Hats off to the creative team on the creation of the world Frank inhabits as well as their subtle use of tech on their website like allowing the reader to click a button to get a full page spread from the comic.

The Ballad of Frank Sartre web comic is a lovely mixture  of  sassy dames, sleezy musicians that are not all they seem,dialogue as sharp as some of the suits being worn with an atmosphere dripping with it’s gooey noir center.

Oh and there’s dog reporters…yes I said it dog reporters.

The Ballad of Frank Sartre is being publish online, for free, 4 pages very Friday Chapter two began on Friday 16th September, Chapter 1 is available to read now. Suggested for mature readers.

GS Rating: 4/5

GS Reporter: Nuge


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