I’m not sure what the general consensus is on zero issues, and whether people like them or not (for me, it’s all about knowing a zero issue exists, so I don’t start with #1), but Tinseltown #1 feels like it could’ve been a zero issue. I follow that remark with “a zero issue for a series I would preorder immediately” but there’s not much time to move past the set-up, and Abigail’s motivations are only cursorily developed.
What’s great about Tinseltown #1 is that writer, David Lucarelli, and artist, Henry Ponciano, establish a clear identity for the series right off the bat. Basically, they deliver on what they promise with the premise: Hollywood and police work. From the cover, which has our main character, Abigail Moore, dressed in uniform, a movie camera in the background, to a border at the top of page one which combines a roll of film, her badge, and a clapboard, there’s a consistency in focus that promotes confidence in the story they have to tell.
After Lucarelli’s introduction, there’s a trust forged as well. Lucarelli’s mother, Miriam, was a cop during the 1980’s. Tinseltown takes place in the early 20th century, but there’s a respect for the subject matter, and knowledge of the history of how women have been treated on the force, that reinforces Lucarelli’s investment in telling this story right. Tinseltown is a work of fiction, inspired by real prejudice, but Lucarelli has done his research.
Leaning on narration to get things started, it feels like a movie using voiceover work. Abigail’s father was a cop and when an ad in the paper mentions there are spots open on Utopia City Studio’s police department, Abigail decides to “audition.” At first the job seems comparable to the one her father held in Hollywood, as one of the city’s two police officers, but the wording of these scenes tips readers off to something being wrong.
Tinseltown is able to use the ambiguity of Abigail’s job to strike its own path and not become your typical, police procedural. Caught off guard by her employer’s lack of interest in seeing her trained, this isn’t the first time Abigail has tried to become a cop (she grasps her hat like Mary Tyler Moore does in her theme song) but they wouldn’t consider a woman. Can Abigail find fulfillment just pretending, and what about the responsibilities of the job? Visitors don’t know she’s a rookie. Her employers must have something to hide, if they won’t hire real authorities.
Then there’s Abigail’s relationship with her father, and why she wants to be a cop. While we’re given the cliff notes version of what happened to her dad, there’s a lot more to divulge and Ponciano’s use of color cinematically finds the emotion in every scene. From genre-establishing blues and yellows for a western, to bright colors indicating progress, while sepia tones create a disconnect with the past (when the entire early 20th century could be painted sepia, Ponciano shows discretion) letterer, HdE, keeps the text moving at a steady clip. Abigail will have to make a decision in Issue # 2 about what kind of cop she wants to be. Will Utopia be her chance to prove her mettle or a regretted career distraction?
Tinseltown #1 goes on sale April 4th from Alterna Comics.