Loud! by Maria Llovet is surprisingly difficult to describe. It feels like an X-rated short feature or a particularly decadent midnight movie. Simplest: A night at a Loud!, a music bar/strip club goes wrong. Disastrously so.
Loud! is the Spanish artist's second Black Mask work, and the second thing she's done that she's the writer/artist on. Chronologically, Loud! (authored in 2018, published 2020) comes after There's Nothing There (which Patrick Kindlon wrote, 2017) but before Faithless (which Brian Azzarello is writing, 2019). There are vampires in Loud!, but it's not a vampire story, or maybe it is. A lot goes on in Loud!, and it's to Ms. Llovet's credit as an author and cartoonist that she can cram so much in the OGN. Characters, or more accurately, sketches of characters, are everywhere, and this one night is where they all intersect. Maybe the setting (the club called Loud!) is the main character.
There's only one ick moment, and that's the picture of the pedophile and the survivor handed from one assassin to another. That image made me extremely uncomfortable (and presumably it's supposed to), and that moment of discomfort sets the stage for the dramatic change in tone to come. Until that point, it's mostly X-rated fun. Drinking, drugs, sex, a stripper descends from the ceiling to perform. A speaker also falls from the ceiling, which added a tactile-ness to the story that I didn't expect, something that the scenery was really lived in.
Loud! is short enough that I've read it about five times, and I still miss things, like different fonts for sound effects. It looks like Llovet used hand-drawn stuff for generic "club music noise" and then what looks like a different, more flowery font for a particular song coming out of a speaker in the back of the house. I wish Black Mask took a closer look at the way the comic came out, though. The colors on the hardcover are much darker than the colors on my laptop screen, and there's at least one-word balloon that was colored in the same color as the man speaking it.
Ultimately, my complaints are few, and my praise dwarfs them. Loud! is short, but Llovet dotted her is and crossed her ts. The club's not just a backdrop; it's also shady enough that things in there break and people quit. There's security, which checks patrons selectively. The tattoo on the first character you see turns out to be meaningful. I could go on. Loud! is one of my favorite comics this year.