Created by Tim Broderick
DAVID DiANGELO earns his living doing odd jobs, sometimes extremely odd, in Tim Broderick's smart, quirky web comic, the aptly-titled Odd Jobs.
He doesn't consider himself a private eye -- he makes that very clear to a potential client in the very first story arc-- but he certainly does fall under this site's definition of one, more a Travis McGee salvage consultant-type than a straight PI, but a P.I. nonetheless. And the creator is certainly familiar with the genre -- he's confided to me that he has big plans for David to be "shot at, beaten with the butt of a shotgun, whacked with a two-by-four, have a wheelbarrel-load of bricks thrown at him, almost poisoned, shot at again, tied up, beaten with fists, stripped down to his shorts and caged, almost blown up, almost strangled, cut with a machete and beaten. And that's just the stories I've plotted." Sounds like a lotta fun.
But, make no mistake, although he can take care of himself, David's more suit-and-tie geek, than two-fisted bruiser. He's solemn and straight as they come, but he can make that cursor fly. In fact, David's one plugged-in, connected kinda guy. He uses the web to do research, plan trips and keep in touch. As well as a home computer, he's got a small handheld to keep in touch when he's on the road.
The strip only looks simple. A big part of the strip's appeal is its defiant smarts, and its perceptive take on the brave new technology. The new economy may be all about links, but it's the broken links and the resulting desolation and alienation that David (and Broderick) probe so well.
That mood is perfectly captured, a great brooding sense of world-weariness and loneliness that many try to achieve, but few manage to pull off without resorting to hoary film noir clichés.
That Broderick nails it down with a few lines and a handful of text is just amazing. It may scare away the average fanboy, but then, it's not aimed them. This is a true adult comic -- intended for grown-ups, not some juvenile wanking fantasy for horny sixteen year olds.
Broderick says he wanted to avoid making his cartoon character too much of a cartoon character, and he's succeeded. The characters are believable, and real. And the complicated, understated relationship between David and his neighbour, Helena Ferar, is all too real. Even the fact that she's some kind of psychic empath is handled in a credible fashion. Of course, because Helena seems to attract people who need help, she's also one of David's main sources of work .
The clean (and deliberate) sparseness of the artwork and the direct but nuanced and literate storytelling make this one of the better crime comics I've read in years. With Odd Jobs, Broderick has created an instant comic classic, easily on a par with David Lapham's ongoing Stray Bullets, Vertigo's Scene of the Crime mini-series or Max Allan Collins and Piers Rayners' Road To Perdition graphic novel, and far superior to some of the more pretentious, overblown pretenders to the crime comic throne.
Artist/writer Tim Broderick was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago. For the last 10 years, though, he's lived on the northwest side with my wife and identical twin daughters. Tim says "doing a webcartoon is a lot like performing live on a street corner. It's earthier, less finished work but I think much more rewarding. My present style is designed to be loose, influenced by artists like Ralph Steadman, Hugo Pratt and cartoonists like Chester Gould who weren't afraid to draw outlandish but believable characters. The minimal style is meant to reflect the minimal writing style best used by Dashiell Hammett." By the way, Tim is the first webcartoonist to be voted full, Active membership in Mystery Writers of America.
STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR'S MOUTH
- "Lost Child" (2000-May 2001)
- "Something to Build Upon" (June 2001-February 2003)
- "Cash & Carry" (March 2003 --April 2005)
- "Children of the Revolution" (2007 --)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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