The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week: ‘The Private Eye’ #1

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin are names that attract attention in the comics world. Vaughan has written beloved books like Y: The Last Man and the current Saga. Marcos Martin worked on The Amazing Spider-Man, among other books.

And now they have a new mini-series, self-published, where you pay what you want. It’s about the world of the future, where the Internet has been shut down and everybody wears a mask.

The Private Eye sounds a bit goofy, or even hipsterish, on paper: Journalists as police, private detectives as rebels, an America where privacy is a God-given right and we all went back to analog media. It sounds like something a self-righteous jerk with “Buy Film Not Digital” stickers would have slapped on his laptop.

Vaughan, however, has a good explanation: In the near future, cloud storage goes horribly wrong. For forty days and forty nights, everything, and Vaughn means everything, from browser histories to cheating hearts, were laid bare. Families were destroyed. Businesses crumbled. And privacy suddenly became paramount. This is something we largely observe instead of being told; Vaughan’s script is more concerned with its thriller plot, and it makes for a book you read and reread to spot how society has changed.

Then there’s Martin’s art. Since this book was written and drawn specifically for the Internet, Martin uses a horizontal layout built for computer screens, which makes reading the book much easier on computer screens.

Secondly, as to be expected, it’s gorgeous. Here’s the least spoilery page we could feature:

Martin gives this a dynamism and style that’s perhaps to be expected based on his previous work, but particularly inventive here. He also handles a pretty hard job: Evoking emotions in people wearing masks. There’s lots of gorgeous, subtle detail here to soak up, and his layouts alone should serve as a guide for how comics should be released digitally.

You can pay what you want: It goes straight to Vaughan and Martin and it’s sold via their website Panel Syndicate. And I recommend you do. Even if it’s only a dollar, The Private Eye is worth the price, and it’d be nice to see Vaughan and Martin’s faith in their fans rewarded.