Written by: William Massa
Antarctic Press – Writers: V.J Boyd and Justin Boyd. Artist: Christian DiBari
“For a ghost, change is a dirty word.” – Ghost Cop # 1
The screenwriter in me is always looking for the next cool high-concept hook that could have a shot at becoming a film. Most writers have notebooks full of ideas that never quite graduate to becoming novels or scripts. One of my favorite premises that never left my idea box yet kept haunting me over the years (pun intended) was for a ghost–cop buddy flick. I could hear the pitch in my mind, it’s Lethal Weapon meets Ghost. I even had a flashy title – I was going to call it Shadow Cop. But I could never crack the premise to my satisfaction.
Enter Ghost Cop # 1 by V.J. Boyd and Justin Boy, art by Christian DiBari, a comic that delivers on the potential of the premise and then some. The story in a nutshell:
“In 1947, hard-boiled police detective Tom Fraley was murdered by a vicious serial killer. Now, in 2013, someone is replicating that killer’s pattern. Fraley’s spirit returns to hunt down the criminal and take vengeance for his own death.”
This synopsis already hints at one element that the writers really nail – the ghost cop character. By making him an entity that has been hanging around for 65 after meeting an untimely end (instead of being an officer gunned down today), we are presented with a character full of pathos, history and sadness. This guy has been stuck on this plane for years, cut off from the world, trapped in limbo, his only connection with reality coming from overheard snippets of conversation.
The book takes a sharp turn when Tom encounters a female cop who is able to see and hear him. It’s Tom’s first chance at real human contact in decades and Tom finds himself drawn to the officer after his long years of isolation. The chemistry between these two cops, one living, the other dead, takes the story to the next level. The writer strikes a near-perfect balance between horror and humor and the comic delivers sum of the requisite buddy-cop laughs without ever veering into camp.
The comic also gets another element right. By incorporating serial killer tropes into the narrative, the writers create the perfect villain for a horror-crime genre hybrid. It also hints at Tom’s arc of redemption – he might finally get a chance to face his killer and move on.
In terms of art, the characters’ faces sometimes look a bit plastic and lifeless but in Tom’s case, it adds to the eerie, spectral quality of the character. That minor quibble aside, DiBari does a solid job setting the mood for this tale and recalls the artwork in European horror comic books such as Dylan Dog. Some other subplots and mysteries are hinted at in the first issue and at $1.99 and 30-pages, the book delivers a lot of bang for its two bucks. My only critique is directed against the lettering as I found the issue a bit hard on the eyes but that might be an ipad issue more than anything else.
Overall, Ghost Cop a solid book that should appeal to both horror and crime fans. Check it out!
William Massa is a screenwriter, novelist and script consultant. His first novel FEAR THE LIGHT: WHO MURDERED DRACULA? is now available for download on Amazon (LINK). William can be contacted on his facebook page (www.facebook.com/WilliamMassaBooks) and followed on twitter (https://twitter.com/Bill_Massa).