Certainly worth more than just a peep
Gritty crime dramas have become an ever-increasing trope in comics, their demand soaring without stopping for breath. One of the latest in this trend is the excellent, ongoing series that is Peepshow.
Set in the 1980’s, the comic takes readers to the dodgy underground of Times Square and the decadent peep shows of that era. It quickly devolves into a tale of murder, crime, and corruption, as passions let loose and integrity flies out the window. Most interestingly, the writer is a former peep booth performer and claims that the story is semi-autobiographical. That’s pretty mind-blowing. There are plenty of references to events both past and present, giving Peepland the feel of a story both decades old and yet still fresh and relevant.
The story follows the escapades of Roxy Bell, the star attraction in a sleazy peep show. She and her friends and coworkers get wrapped up in a murder case, with the actual killer still on the loose while they deal with the ramifications of the criminal underground and a fundamentally corrupt, apathetic justice system. Her colleague and fellow peep show star Aiesha develops problems of her own, as the police eye out her son Lorenzo as a potential suspect. Her lover A.J. takes it upon herself to raise money to hire a lawyer for Aiesha’s son, which opens up the door to a whole world of debauchery. And that’s all in just in the first few pages!
Unlike in the previous issues, we get to see a different side to Roxy. She’s starting to buckle a bit under the pressure, showing off her controlling persona as something of a tougher exterior. I appreciate the way the character has grown and developed, and it really makes the story more nuanced. Likewise, the rest of the cast have evolved and seem almost as familiar as friends, which makes their tragedies all the more compelling as they’ve grown into their respective roles. The story is accelerating, with more blood being shed and more lives in danger, instilling in readers a sense that things are reaching a crescendo.
The artwork is superb, employing a realistic style than nonetheless sides a bit on the idealistic side of the spectrum. For example, the use of hard, dark lines is omnipresent, as opposed to softer, colored outlines. Facial expressions are fantastic examples of miniatures, bustling with character and emotion. And dutch angles are used extensively, often to highlight particularly dangerous situations or heated exchanges. It’s not the finest example of eye candy in a comic, but it’s still a visual treat for casual readers and art aficionados alike.
Peepland is a harsh but gripping story that pushes the envelope for comics just a little bit further. Relentlessly savage and unapologetically grounded in reality, it’s the ideal crime story fix, with this third issue carrying on the story superbly. Things are maturing and readers will want to see the story through to its conclusion. I know I do. Download it for your device now by heading over to its store page at Titan Comics.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Writers: Christa Faust, Gary Phillips ; Artist: Andrea Camerini ; Genre(s): Crime ; Released: 18 January, 2017.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a review copy of Peepland issue #3 given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.