“F*ck Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m serious. F*ck him. And while you’re at it, F*ck Dan Gilroy, too.” That’s the opening of writer Marc Guggenheim’s afterward in his latest comic series, Stringers. It’s also the first part of the comic I was most interested in reading as I wanted to see how he’d address Nightcrawler, the 2014 film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and written/directed by Dan Gilroy. One of the aspects of Oni Press’ new comic series, Stringers, is just how remarkable its premise sounds like the film Nightcrawler. It’s easily the main reason I decided to give this title a read and an aspect that I’m glad Marc Guggenheim addressed in his afterward written back in May 2015. He writes that he hasn’t seen their movie and that Stringers “is not that.” As someone who has seen Nightcrawler and covered the picture in-depth for What’cha Reading (see our review here), Marc Guggenheim and Justin Greenwood’s Stringers “is not that.”
Marc Guggenheim had written that he wanted to find a series to work on with artist Justin Greenwood that they “could have some equity in.” Stringers issue 1 is that series and is a great pairing between writer and artist. Marc Guggenheim has an unmistakable way with words and provides a fast and furious script that has a way of providing exposition through a “BallsOutChaseAt90mph” and “TheDeafeningSoundOfGunfire.” This is how we meet Nick and Paul, two stringers (nightcrawlers, freelancers, ambulance chasers) in Los Angeles. Issue 1 opens with Nick and Paul traveling fast through the streets of L.A. as they record footage of police cruisers chasing after gang members. As rounds of ammunition are unloaded out the car window, the dynamic between Nick and Paul, an odd couple, is characterized through their argument over peanut butter being a condiment or not.
Justin Greenwood delivers an exciting fluid story and brings to life the car chase and action of Stringers. There’s certain material you’d think just wouldn’t translate well to the pages of a comic book, but Justin Greenwood does a fantastic job. Stringers issue 1 is as exciting as an action-packed comic can get, but it’s also an honest attempt at telling a story that still not many people are fully aware of. Marc Guggenheim learned of freelance videographers in Los Angeles ten years ago while listening to NPR. Unlike Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, Guggenheim and Greenwood’s Nick and Paul are more of the people Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom would encounter than being a facsimile of his character. Paul, more career oriented and looking to escape the seediness of “stringing”, has something to tell his partner Nick based on a phone call from his wife. She asks him if he told him yet “about the thing” and it’s just as good a setup as when we’re introduced to a rival stringer Tom Speeziali “a/k/a ‘Speez the Sleaze’.”
Stringers issue 1 is an interesting story worth reading. There’s a sleaziness that permeates throughout the issue and it’s effective in creating a real sense for the work of stringing when nightcrawling. Earlier this year while on the road to legitimize my own journalistic endeavors, nightcrawling became the first choice and quickest to fully accomplish all of the requirements for a press pass. There’s an undeniable uneasiness to photographing and recording crime that doesn’t sit right with certain people and this is exactly what we get in the character of Paul. Paul’s not in this for the long haul. Right now, it’s just a means to an end as he searches for his own validity and legitimization of what he does. Marc Guggenheim’s character feels relatable and true to the world of stringing. However, despite Mr. Guggenheim and and Justin Greenwood’s honest work, it must be said that the high speed chases and gun battles is simple story-telling at its finest. While there are the occasional pursuits, they are so far and few between that most nights are spent more in the car and responding to occurrences post action.
Marc Guggenheim and Justin Greenwood have an interesting premise with the first issue of Stringers. It’s a comic worth checking out especially given that this material is hardly ever explored. The lives of uninsured and nonsalaried freelancers is interesting as there are many out there and it also happens to be one of the easiest ways to get access into the world of journalism with little experience. I’m glad to see this material being further explored in the comic book format.
Stringers issue 1 is out now and gets four out of five stars. Check out a preview…
Stringers #1 (of 5)
Writer: Guggenheim, Marc
Artist: Greenwood, Justin
Cover Artist: Greenwood, Justin
On Sale August 26, 2015
Publisher Oni Press
Diamond Id: JUN151440
Format: LIMITED SERIES