In my review of this week’s revitalised Green Arrow I spoke about following writers that I was a fan of, with Snap I did something as similar as it is different, I did something new for me, I followed an artist: Jock. This is a creator owned series – the other creator in question is writer Andy Diggle – and not a superhero book and so when I say that I knew nothing of the story going in I mean nothing; and given where the issue goes i would argue that this is advisable, so I’m going to start this review with my closing summary.
Snapshot #1 is the start of a charming and suspenseful thriller series and while it is the mateship that makes each page so pleasant to read its the mystery that keeps you turning them and turning them back after you reach the dreaded back cover. So if you haven’t read the issue definitely do so before you continue further into this review. Whether you do so on my recommendation, the authors or the artists is irrelevant; just be sure to skim through a copy by weeks end because this is a book that people are going to be talking about and its a smartly told story besides.
Was I wrong? Good call? You have read the book by now right? Good call. The joy of Snapshot is really in its simplicity: this isn’t some huge Hickman-esque sci-fi epic or a superhero story bogged down in scores of continuity, its a lowdown, low-fi conspiracy thriller told through some of the starkest black and white art that I have ever seen ( I mean seriously, there is so much white space on these pages that it simply had to have been the cheapest book printed for Diamond in a long while). As always though the best simplicity is actually deceptively complex beneath the surface, making things seem straighter and easier than they really are and that is definitely the case here.
The concept of the book isn’t yet clear – the conspiracy at its core only just starting to show itself out from the shadows, their evil plan still hidden deep in those depths – but the class in Diggle’s telling of it is obvious. The characters on the other hand are sketched out in only the space of a page: a young comic store employee and his over-familiar older customer,if you’re reading a comic review then you know these people and their banal action and banter only serves to strengthen our connection to them. The closest comparison that I can make is to the recent UK series Utopia, which takes a similar set of characters in a comic shop and forces them into a similar conspiracy, but whereas that show saw fit to blow up the stakes this book is so far happy to just sit within the realm of reality, which is refreshing.
Jock’s art, despite being what drove me to the book, was much less familiar to me, drastically different than anything that I have seen from him in the past – admittedly though I have only ever seen his full-colour, full-budget superhero work, which practically panders to a different audience in a very different way. Snapshot‘s art is driven by an interesting dynamic, the clash of its almost cartoonish characters and the complex settings and shadows surrounding them (see the impossible line-work in his city buildings or the crosshatched face on the final page for examples of the later). Like Sean Murphy’s work Jock’s style here lends the book an energy that trumps that provided by inks, the clarity of his storytelling is something that colour simply couldn’t convey.
Together the pair do wonders with their pacing, delivering big plot beats in pages with only three loose panels and barely a line of dialogue. The sparseness of their approach to the story doesn’t make it seem light or disposable, rather in comparison it renders all of the other books out there not doing something similar as bloated and almost too heavy to bear. This is a book that will only take you a few minutes to read but boy will that be time well spent and so will the hours of thought you put into figuring out its conspiracy ( my bet, look for the boss of the store to be involved). Now I simply need to sit and count the hours and minutes left until the second issue drops.