In the noir style comic book Liar’s Kiss, Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano tell the story of Nick Archer, P.I. It’s clear from page one that Archer isn’t exactly ethical, as he’s scamming his client Kincaid and sleeping with Kincaid’s wife. Shortly after, Kincaid ends up dead and the wife looks guilty. Archer now has to do everything he can to help prove her innocence.
The overall design of this book is wonderfully eye-catching. From the hot pink front and black cover and the vibrant yellow endpapers, to the shadowy black and white illustrations, this book screams gritty and dangerous. The noir style characters and illustrations make the mystery a sexy and compelling read. The illustrations are simple and raw, with lots of dark shadows and thick black lines. Depictions of flashbacks are done in grayish watercolors paintings, helping to set them apart in one of the smartest ways I’ve ever seen. The blurred, less precise images are a stark contrast to the short, concise lines depicting the main story – showing that the memory being thought of might not be 100% accurate. It’s hard to know who to trust in this graphic novel.
The story starts out with very obvious, recognizable characters: femme fatale, trusting sidekick, and the hardened detective. However, it quickly takes on a life of its own, differentiating itself from other detective stories. The story hooks the reader quickly: we know the wife isn’t guilty (don’t we?), so who could the killer be? Unfortunately, the ending unravels very abruptly, making the discovery of who-dun-it much less satisfying. Looking back, the plot is still tight with a brilliant twist, but it lost something in execution.
Overall, a good read for noir and mystery fans, with tight, excellent drawings. This is definitely an adult book, with sexual activity shown in the first few pages. Liar’s Kiss is a compelling, quick read at only 120 pages. It kept me guessing until the end, which, sadly, came much too soon. The sudden, curt ending was too disappointing to do justice to this otherwise fantastic read.
by Eric Skillman
Art by Jhomar Soriano
Top Shelf, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: Adult