Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #362: Satellite Sam, Vol. 1 by Fraction & Chaykin

If you want a comic with a lot of leggy blondes in gartered stockings -- the long-haired blondes are friendly; the short-haired ones are man-eating villains -- then you want to look for the Howard Chaykin seal. His work has been amazingly thematically consistent for the last roughly three decades, all men in double-breasted suits, the aforementioned pneumatic women in merry widows and more exotic lingerie, and cross-talk dialogue among a huge cast that it's difficult to keep straight.

He's written his own comics for a long time now -- done it well since at least American Flagg! back in the early 1980s -- so it's surprising to see him doing almost exactly the same thing with a collaborator for the words. That collaborator is no slouch, either: Matt Fraction is a smart and in-demand writer, known for Hawkeye and Sex Criminals among others.

But, from the evidence of the first five issues -- it's not a complete story, which I'll get into more later -- Fraction is channeling Chaykin here, or maybe just writing the things Chaykin likes to draw, as Chaykin does for himself. Satellite Sam is a murder-mystery set in 1951 New York, in the fledgling TV industry, where the star of the eponymous show has just been murdered at the worst time: right before one of the daily shows at 3:45. His lookalike son Mike -- yet another Chaykin trademark -- steps into the role, and up as our more-or-less central hero, but Satellite Sam is an ensemble book, about all of the crew and cast of the show and their various secrets and schemes.

Satellite Sam, Vol. 1: The Lonesome Death of Satellite Sam introduces that cast, and starts to move them around and reveal their secrets, but there's a lot of people and a lot of secrets, so that will take a while. There are secretly gay men, and other sex scandals -- the dead TV hero has a Bob Crane-esque hobby of taking pictures of his many female conquests in cheap lingerie (because Chaykin) -- and I'd bet serious cash that at least one character will turn out to be secretly or formerly a member of a Communist party, since this is 1951. There's already one character who will likely turn into a fictional version of Ernie Kovacs, and -- again, because of Chaykin -- quite a lot of tastefully depicted oral sex in various permutations.

There's nothing particularly new here: it's historical fiction in a well-known recent period, hitting all of the beats that we expect. But it's entertaining, as long as you can keep the characters straight, and Chaykin does draw gorgeous women in long stockings and very little else. Satellite Sam's strengths may be very specific, but they're definitely there.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

No comments:

Post a Comment