Publisher: Image
Words: W. Maxwell Prince
Pencils and Inks: Martin Morazzo
Colours: Matt Lopes
Backup colours: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon

Art is kind of vital to comics. Comics are a visual story telling medium. If the art doesn’t work for you odds are you will not enjoy the book. The idea of the more highbrow art being depicted in a comic book and add in some surreal crime elements seems like a concept that would work well in a comic. Does it? I would day for the most part, yes.

This is a world you are basically thrown into. The Mona Lisa, that most famous painting, is winking for some reason. Cue the Bureau of Artistic Integrity and director Margot Breslin. She heads to, well, a psychiatric unit to gain the help of Arthur ‘Art’ Brut a man on so many meds you’d never count them all. He’s a dream painter who apparently has insight to help solve the case of the winking woman.

It’s all very bizarre but in a good way. You get some hints of the deeper world building, just enough to get the gist, but with plenty left to explore. The exposition is quite subtle which makes it more natural. It’s the way I like my exposition. Also in a book with a mystery it’s good to actually have something of a mystery, not just the plot but also about the world itself.

I should probably in a book about art mention the key ingredient, the art. One touch I like this that the famous paintings are sort of well photoshopped in. When we have a picture of the Mona Lisa it’s not a drawn representation but what we’d see, well plus the winking. It’s a very simple but effective method of demonstrating there’s something unique about art, something that Art Brut is attuned to in a way others aren’t. It also gives the paintings a strange disconnect from the world around them which just works.

The art that is not erm actual art, or paintings, is solid. The characters are individual enough and even in crowds you can pick out different people. The facial expressions show the right levels of emotion. The shape of the heads and faces feels distinct but also as of it harks back to classic forms of how to draw faces and people, that oval shape.

The settings are equally well done. The vastness of galleries and the intimacy of a padded cell are all given the right sense of scale and atmosphere. When things get weird the art definitely lives up to it. It’s helped by a strong colour palette. The colouring works well with the overall art style, it’s pretty seamless.

This is a book that I sense will benefit from re-reads. There’s more than one thread to tug on and explore. I am very much intrigued by this first issue. There’s a lot to interest here. As introductions go it’s solid and I think works as a first issue. I’m willing to step further into the painting to see more of Art Brut.

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