Deadbeat
Written by: Jed McPherson
Art by: Chris Shehan
Published by: (self published)

First thing I think of when I see a comic called Deadbeat is…”I wonder if it is about a deadbeat dad?” I was quite happy to open the book and find out that I was correct. Finally…I’m right for once. I actually really like the title of the book and surprised I haven’t seen it used previously.  But this dude?  He’s the deadbeat of deadbeat dads in a wonderfully told crime story.

The book tells two stories simultaneously but both revolve around a character named Mikey. Mikey is the said deadbeat dad – just your average small crimes jerk who only wants to put a gun into someone’s face and take their money.

In flashback we see that Mikey is actually going around committing crimes with his young daughter Laurie tucked (not so safely) in the backseat of his car. Running around, robbing stores, getting shot, boozing…Mikey gets such a thrill from this life.

It is quite a contrast to the older Mikey who has been summoned by his now much older daughter Laurie. The reader understands very quickly that Mikey was really not in his daughter’s life and she barely wants to call this man “Dad.” Problem is Laurie has a plan. Laurie wants to rob.  She has a plan to get a ton of money. Who better to help then the father who has robbed his whole life?

Mikey has tried to leave that life behind. Now the daughter he never did shit for is asking for his help. Mikey’s never been there for his daughter before and now makes the decision to help her. Even if it forces him to once again go out and commit crimes.

Many times with books that go back and forth in time I get a feeling that the flashbacks could be told a bit better.  I usually get this feeling with independent books because there is usually no editor looking over the shoulder guiding the writer. This is not the case with Deadbeat and I thought writer Jed McPherson did a wonderful job weaving the tale of Mikey’s past and present together. This book is a crime story but I also felt quite a bit of emotion. You see the highs of Mikey’s past and the low point of having lived that life in the present. It’s beautifully told.  I felt empathy for this character when I really wasn’t sure he deserved it.  That is good storytelling.

The artwork really compliments the book and artist Chris Shehan knocks it out of the park. Right away I thought the artwork was slightly reminiscent of an indy book I used to love from Panel Press titled Raised By Squirrels. I found that artwork stunning and had a very unique style – just like here in Deadbeat.  The pencils and inks really made an impression on me. I think it was a very wise move NOT to color this book. The black and white presentation truly fits and gives it a very noir feel. I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision or not but either way I think it makes this book look outstanding.

What would you do for your kid? It’s a question I ask myself constantly. The answer here in Deadbeat is quite compelling. Deadbeat is very worth the pickup and one book I can highly recommend. If there’s a gripe its that I was really able to connect with Mikey in a very short amount of time but I don’t believe there will be a follow-up. Which is a shame because I really liked the character.

RANK: A

You can find Deadbeat at http://zhourules.bigcartel.com or https://gumroad.com/jedmcpherson

SIDE NOTE: If you buy the book and love it I would also recommend Mel Gibson’s Blood Father. Some of the same themes and a great performance by Mel. The comic and the movie are TOTALLY DIFFERENT but I think they both compliment each other nicely. And if you’ve seen Blood Father already and liked it? Don’t hesitate – pick up Deadbeat right away.

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