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Indie Comic Review: Francis & The Vegas Tramps

The great thing about comics is that they encourage experimentation more than any other medium. It's much harder to do this approach in prose, which is strictly words on a page, or film, which can be very expensive to produce. The fusion of art and story is so perfect that it allows creators to let their imagination run wild with all sorts of inventions. Francis and The Vegas Tramps is testament to this. It combines the nostalgic art style of American Splendor, the grittiness of noir mystery, and the wackiness of galactic sci-fi to create something wholly unique.

 

Francis and The Vegas Tramps follows an intergalactic rock and roll band twenty years after they've broken up and their lead singer is found murdered Molly Meteor, who is arguably the brains behind the band, arrives on the planet to try and uncover the mystery behind his murder. In the process, she takes down a dangerous drug cartel and a secret conspiracy worthy of any good rock and roll story.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the story once it got going. Not everyone will like its indie feel and art style. And the story can get long-winded and ridiculous. There's also a couple of narrative choices that made some of the panels hard to follow as it bounced back and forth between flashbacks and real time. But it's hard not to get suckered in by the story’s nostalgia, which leans heavily into its rock and roll motif as it starts with an Elvis impersonator. The book tries to do many things at once, resulting in a “Sin City meets Spaceballs” dynamic. Some readers will want the book to be one or the other, but the fact that it straddles two worlds at once is part of its charm.

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