I Can Sell You a Body #1 Review: A Spooky Noir Premise That Stumbles in Execution

Comic Reviews - I Can Sell You a Body #1
(Photo: IDW Publishing)

I Can Sell You a Body #1, co-created by writer Ryan Ferrier and artist George Kambadais, delivers the DIY charm of a small press offering even under the label of IDW Publishing, one of the biggest fish in the admittedly small pond of direct market comics. Even when the seams of this story appear to obvious or minor flaws are unable to be ignored, the comic delivers sufficient effort on each page so as to never discourage readers. That enthusiasm alone is worth applauding.

As the first installment of a four-part miniseries, it adeptly introduces its entire premise from the solicit before the issue is even halfway through, something that many new concepts from larger publishers fail to accomplish by the final page. This is the story of Denny Little, a disgraced TV psychic with a very real ability to contact the deceased, who can return the souls of the departed into mortal forms. He also happens to be terrible at managing his own money, which has led to trouble with figures in organized crime. Readers have all of that quickly assembled with a dash of action and humor in the first half of the issue, providing plenty of space for additional complications and relationships to develop throughout the rest of the comic. Putting any other flaws aside, I Can Sell You a Body delivers some of the best pacing and on-page plotting to be found in a new series, and serves as a reminder that it’s better to show readers why they should care rather than slowly tell them the same.

The story itself riffs on hardluck noir tropes, not a detective or enforcer’s tale, but the narrative of an underdog who’s more likely to find his demise than a win by the final page turn; think The Friends of Eddie Coyle or Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. This works well as a narrative framework because it opens with a seemingly impossible problem and continues to stack more on top of that introduction. The biggest flaw in this arrangement is the imprecise nature of the leading man Denny. He doesn’t exert much charm on the page beyond his status as an underdog and there isn’t much definition provided in this issue about his drives and values. Many of his actions appear to be driven by plot rather than any clearly conceived personality; he attempts to brutally rob agency (and life?) from one of his employees one moment and hands over a large sum of money to a stranger in need the next with no clear reason for either of these extraordinary actions.

The issue is generally well told and Kambadais’ work really shines in the moments where the real and ethereal blur together, taking advantage of indistinct background and shifting forms to highlight the fear that penetrates much of Denny’s life. However, there’s a lack of polish throughout. A seemingly lively city is transformed into a ghost town in exterior panels, with large towers and open streets revealing no details beyond the characters who are at its focus. The effect of creating a ghost town appears anything but purposeful. Lettering also becomes an issue at a couple of points, including a disclaimer gag that’s too difficult to decipher. These sorts of missteps are threaded throughout the issue and, while none ever bring the story to a grinding halt, serve as a reminder that this is a two-man show, perhaps with a bit of rush put on the order.

I Can Sell You a Body makes up for its imperfections with charm and ambition, delivering far more story and ideas than most direct market debuts. It’s a mixed-bag, but one that fans of Ferrier’s earlier comics like D4VE will likely find more good than bad within. Given a little bit more attention to its leading man and a little more attention to details around the plot on each panel, this miniseries could deliver a pleasant surprise to start 2020 in comics.

Published by IDW Publishing

On January 1, 2019

Written by Ryan Ferrier

Art by George Kambadais

Colors by George Kambadais

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Letters by Ryan Ferrier

Cover by George Kambadais