Review: Close (Comichaus)

Joining the excellent 32 Kills as the latest part of the Comichaus publishing push is Close, which is written by Impossible’s Chris Sides and long time collaborator Chris Travell. Released from the pages of the Comichaus Anthology, Close is a slice of contemporary crime drama that sees a stalker wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. So is this a book one you should be keeping an eye on or one that needs locking up?

Publisher: Comichaus
Writer: Chris Sides
Artist: Chris Travell
Price: TBC

Jared has just been released from prison for stalking a Hollywood starlet. But when he is released on bail he goes back to his old ways – securing an unlicensed phone and getting his electronic tag removed. But when he goes back to spying on his old prey he ends up witness to her accidental death at the hands of her jealous boyfriend and ends up getting himself incriminated into her death.

Close has a very cinematic or TV mini series feel to it. You could definitely see it as a concept for a gritty HBO show or low budget indie movie. Originally pitched as a series in the Comichaus anthology it has been released from that structure and we were able to read the first three chapters here. Although it still has that chapter structure, which definitely reinforces that mini series vibe, it also benefits from reading it in one chunk – a bit like binge watching a box set. However it also meant that we only got to see how the first half of the story planned out and it is how the story ultimately gets resolved that will make or break this kind of series.

First impressions though are very strong as Sides continues his excellent work from Impossible to create a really strong centreal concept for the book and some very sympathetic characters. Although it seemed odd at first for him to be writing an American set book, you could argue that you need that Transatlantic tone for it to really work and it might have lost something if it had been Anglicized.

Instead, the character of Jared is your classic tragic small time crook that we’ve seen in a million and one tv dramas, who is drawn back into his old ways on release from jail. But his story is given that extra poignancy by it taken out of his control by actions that were not his own. It’s a cautionary tale for anyone with vices and also a great alternative twist on a well worn concept.

Sides’ team up with artist Travell also really pays dividends, and these long time friends have produced their best work to date here. Travell’s very detailed pencil style reminded us of the excellent Grayham Puttock’s work on Circusside and Red Rocket Comet and it’s realism definitely helps make this story feel much more gritty and real as a result. Add to that some slick lettering and cover design from Ken Reynolds and it means that Close becomes a very polished looking series that after this first issue is simmering nicely in anticipation of its future finale.