Goodnight Paradise Review: A Unique Take on a Common Trope

The "other" TKO comic in the mail was Goodnight Paradise. Admittedly, TKO had me from the creative team (Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Giulia Brusco, and Steve Wands), but sometimes can't miss teams, well, miss. I realized I had as much to say about Goodnight Paradise as I did Sara, so away we go. Goodnight Paradise is a murder mystery set in Dysart's home of gentrifying Venice Beach, except the detective is a homeless alcoholic. There's a lot to say about this comic, in that it seems like it was the least attractive pitch to Hollywood possible. No one's going to sign up to play the vagrant drunk that has trouble remembering when his own son comes to town. I want to recognize TKO for commissioning Goodnight Paradise.

Goodnight Paradise by Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Giulia Brusco and Steve Wands.
Goodnight Paradise by Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Giulia Brusco, and Steve Wands.

Is it good? Of course, it is. You know Dysart and Ponticelli from the oft-name checked Unknown Soldier, which at this point is The Velvet Underground & Nico of 2000s-era Vertigo. Occasionally, Ponticelli's work looks like early Simon Bisley, which I did not expect. Goodnight Paradise's cast of actual runaways feels like fleshed out human beings, especially the former white nationalist running from his family as well as his white power neck tattoo. That's what powers the comic for me, the very human motivations of needing a place to defecate and sleep—most people in this comic look dirty and uncomfortable, which is apt for the subject matter. Brusco's colors are instrumental in this regard.

You could also ask how far afield Dysart goes with detective tropes while managing to remain in bounds, given that Eddie, the main character, also suffers from some pretty bad mental problems. By the time we get into Venice Beach's high society (Snapchat employees), I rooted for Eddie and the community to solve the mystery as well as staying alive. The sequence of Eddie curled up inside a garbage dumpster to hide from assailants, and eventually falling asleep is haunting. I can't think of the last time I saw a detective jump inside a garbage dumpster, for God's sake. The entire book feels both familiar and uncomfortable. Goodnight Paradise is a take on a trope I haven't seen before, well-drawn (you can almost smell that many of the characters haven't taken a shower in weeks), and kind without erasing characters faults.

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About James Hepplewhite

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