Writer & Creator: Jeff Marsick
Art, Lettering & Creator: Scott Barnett
I didn’t need the endorsement by renowned noir novelist Duane Swierczynski to convince me to check out DEAD MAN’S PARTY. I know both creators from different social circles and had no idea they were working on a project together. Color me surprised that it’s a crime noir comic right up my alley.
In a word: Riveting.
DEAD MAN’S PARTY follows the life of mercenary Charles “Ghost” Willis as he faces a countdown on his life. A countdown he accidentally started. To explain the premise is to spoil it a little but I think it’s crucial to give something away so that readers will understand the caliber of ingenuity at which this team is standing. A “dead man’s party” is how an assassin puts a hit on himself, for whatever his personal reason, so that he doesn’t see it coming. He goes out in a way he respects and in a way that best reflects his own life. It’s the Irish wake to have you running and looking over your shoulder.
I didn’t realize Barnett’s talent for sequentials since I was familiar with his pin-ups only. He brings a realism to comic panels that is rare and refreshing. Since it’s pure grade noir, the black and white washed in greys is the only true palette to consider – so, well done, Scott.
As for Marsick, well I thought he was a just a pain in my ass on the internet but it turns out this guy has chops that rival Bendis with one exception: Marsick does it better. He pulls off genuine conversational tone between people in a close relationship without those annoying near constant quips found in popular mainstream noir comics. The two main characters have their own identities which is something that gets lost in some of Bendis’ work. Not too many people have the good sense to show their assassin and handler talking in an office and chilling out with a fat tabby cat on the couch. Kudos for that.
If I didn’t like it, I would have told them privately that I read it and try to spin something to sound gentle and encouraging. Plan B wasn’t necessary.
There you have it. Make sure you have your whiskey ready. These guys have balls and loads of talent. DEAD MAN’S PARTY is perfectly suited for a major blockbuster action film. All I ask is that I get the femme fatale part.
To get your copy you can either find the creators at a convention or check out IndyPlanet: