In the afterword of the Loose Ends, writer Jason Latour reflects on the 10 years it took to make this comic happen — and that decade of work shows on every page and in every panel. The four-issue Image crime series finds its way to shelves in trade paperback form this week.
This comic does pretty much everything right across the board, in every minute category you could conceive for critically judging someone's artistic vision (as reviewers have been known to do; though no one knows why anyone stands for this).
It exists in this world between Richard Linklater, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, True Romance, and True Detective. It's this rainbow, omni bridge between all those worlds of crime, and at the same time is totally it's own thing and isn't trying to be anything else. The tagline for the series, "A 4 Issue Southern Crime Romance," is so perfect in its subtlety and its succinct, literal description; it betrays not a hint of the hugeness of the tale inside. It is a Southern Crime Romance, just like it says on the tin.
I didn't expect to like this book. I didn't know anything about it, and just judging from the cover, I thought: "Here we go. Another tough-guy story for tough guys where everyone swears and punches each other and it's all grim and gritty and it's going to be like some horrible Walmart t-shirt about being proud to be southern or something god awful and cliche like that, like BBQ and barbed wire and big hats and beers and fat-fuck football fans and the belief in some kind of holier-than-thou goodness because they live in lawless swamps with jesus camps." Every southern bias I've developed, growing up in New England as I did, rushed to the front of my brain and my expectations shift to a made-for-TV movie from the USA Network circa 1998. Just cheese and machismo and guns and girls.
Now. All of that being said, plenty of the things just I listed off are very much things in Loose Ends. But I still love it, and think you should read it, and then make someone you know read it too — like you young people do. I know you do! I was young once, and I totally shared things I liked with people who I also liked. And even though there are traces of the dull Southern stereotypes of genre in the story, they aren't used in a dull manner. And nothing feels cliché, despite clearly shining love back at its influences (homage, I believe the word is).
The story centers on one of those bad ideas we make that suddenly get worse. Then the story strands and plot lines loop slowly up like piano wire, snaring around the throats of lovestruck protagonist fuckups, on the run from the past, the present, the cops, and the criminals. What really makes the story so engaging is not just the beautiful way the multiple plot lines all tie together by the end of the tale, but how much truth and realness is in all the bits in between.
Some would say that telling a story with a lot of sex and a lot of violence would be enough to characterize it as some kind of crime/love story. Loose Ends is not done by those people. Watching Cheri and Sonny fall in love on the run, while falling apart, while being worn down by their circumstances and their heavy drug use, feels SO REAL. And no, not just because I once went on the run with this guy that I knew from high school, where after an unfortunate shooting, we took off with all this drug money pursued by crooked cops and enormous dealers. Even if I hadn't gone through all of that, I'd still vibe off the realness here.
Those moments where you see the electricity spark between them, I hope everyone reading this has felt that at least once with another human being, I really do; I hope for nothing more for all of us today. Going forward, I'd have loads more wishes for us re: food, shelter, etc. But for today. I wish we all have that, at least.
This comic could easily be a movie, it could easily be a television show. I can't have been the only person thinking about Hap & Leonard while reading this. If I was the only person, guess what? I don't care. I think about that show all the time; it's a great show. I do mean this easy adaptability as a compliment, by the way. I love comics and I love movies and I love TV shows. None of those mediums cancels out the others.