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Thursday, August 18, 2005
Smoke and Guns
Kirsten Baldock's debut graphic novel, Smoke and Guns is simply fantastic. It's a breezy, entertaining, and most importantly fun story about girl gangs taking to the streets with guns and cigarettes smoking.
The protagonist (you can't really say "hero"), Scarlett is a cigarette girl, wandering the city in a seductive outfit to sell cigarettes to drunken men. Unfortunately, she attracts the unwanted, violent attention of a rival group of cigarette girls when she stars selling in their territory. The violence quickly escalates (they shoot her shoes, she blows up a building) until Scarlett inadvertently touches off a city-wide cigarette girl war. It's not a deep book by any means, and it carries on in the tradition of AIT books that place their emphasis on the concept of the story more than plot or character. But that's a good thing in this case, as the central conceit, cool girls with guns and cigarettes, more than carries the day in this light-hearted, high-action exercise.
Fabio Moon's art is one of the key reasons this works. His style is smooth and sleek, with an excellent and moody use of lighting and shadows. He perfectly captures both the kitsch elements of the cigarette girl costumes as well as their charming elegance. His women are shapely and attractive, and he imbues them with a working class glamour that makes them endearing as they blow each other away. The girls are elegant and beautiful, and the action scenes carry a great deal of energy as well.
Smoke and Guns is definitely a book to seek out. It has gorgeous art, a promising debut for a talented writer, and a simple, infectiously fun story.