Footprints: Bad Luck Charm
Written by Joey Esposito
Art by Jonathan Moore
Published by Soup Dad Comics
Two preternatural co-workers try to scam a Vegas Casino in 1962. A possible supernatural element to the Son of Sam case in the 70’s is explored. Someone or something is wrecking vintage race cars in present day. All in a day’s work for a hard boiled, hard-drinking Sasquatch private investigator.
So, Bigfoot, The Yeti, The Jersey Devil, El Chupacabra, and The Loch Ness Monster open a detective agency. It’s not the beginning of a joke, but a pretty interesting twist on telling noir stories. The Footprints series is published under the name Soup Dad Comics, where I haven’t been able to find any information about the company or its history. So far all I’ve found is a previous story set around the murder of the aforementioned Yeti. After reading this issue, however, I am intrigued to check out the rest of the series.
Footprints: Bad Luck Charm is a collection of three short stories; two in comic form and a two-page short story. Speaking of the opening story first, the titular “Bad Luck Charm”, we see the Jersey Devil, speaking in a stereotypical Jersey accent. Imagine Joe Pesci with wings, horns and claws. Seeking the help of his fellow monster/detective, Mothresa, Devil tries fleecing a casino in order to pay off a bookie. Seeing as how this is the first issue of the franchise I’m reading, this is not a great introduction to the world. It’s essentially a character bit on Mothresa and Devil as folks who aren’t exactly monsters, but not always on the side of the angels.
The prose story, titled “Mr. Monster,” is a very well written short. It shows the universe’s affinity for noir storytelling can be translatable to an almost Sam Spade type of tale. It’s always tricky weaving real-life history into fictional tales, especially those that involve violent elements like the Son of Sam. The novelty of it gets one in the door though, and it’s a nice little tale, all told. However, nothing much happens in regards to the Son of Sam story. It’s got really nice character moments for Foot and hints at a deeper, richer story permeating throughout the books that intrigues me. But I admit when I saw the title, I thought about the Canadian golden age comic book hero Doc Stearne: Mr. Monster. (Which is totally a thing, look it up)
The Third and final story “Ghost On The Road” is a much more straightforward mystery than the previous two tales. I think this story should’ve switched places with the third story. It features something of a mishmash between the typical detective noir story with something of a B-movie creature feature. Considering the principal players in this story, that’s a feat. While this story was not all that much better at introductions, it gave a better feel for the overall premise.
Overall, the artwork by Jonathan Moore fits the genre well and is distinctive in terms of how it depicts these legendary monsters. It makes the mind start to wonder about more modern mythical beings being depicted. Like if Paul Bunyan fought Kaiju in the North, or Davy Crockett fighting werewolves, or Annie Oakley becoming a world-class assassin.
While the idea of “Sasquatch as a P.I.” can easily lend itself to the fantastic, Footprints’ hard adherence to noir keeps things somewhat realistic in terms of tone and practicality, which makes for an interesting read. There’s always hints of a deeper story behind the interactions of these characters, especially in Mr. Foot’s inner monologues. Joey Esposito has a knack for world building with minimal ingredients, though I would like to see more of the world they live in or even if more folk heroes/legends/creatures exist.
With the good that the noir genre brings to such an imaginative tale, there also comes the bad. We only see one story with Motheresa and other than things that have happened to the character in other stories, I know very little about her. That is not to say that noir can’t be creative; far from it. But by toning down the more outlandish elements, it keeps it almost too grounded. Then again, it is something of a hair’s breadth to Hellboy to begin with, so make of that what you will.
As for the character of Mr. Foot himself, he is a grizzled, but determined P.I. He wants to explore cases and look for the otherworldly, but also realizes that one can’t do it without the finances, so he lends out his and his cohorts’ services. There is talk of a dustup between the characters that seems to have been resolved by the events of the third story, which takes place as recent as the 2010’s.
Footprints is a solid if peculiar slice of noir fantasy that’s as hard boiled as it is inspired. Part Mike Hammer, part Hellboy, all interesting if a little confusing. May not be the best, but worth a read at least once.