Satellite Sam #1; A Little bit Naughty, but Plenty Nice

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Satellite Sam #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Howard Chaykin
Published by Image Comics

Eisner award winner Matt Fraction is back in the independent fold with the exciting Satellite Sam #1, much to benefit of all those thirsty perverts out there in need of a little bit more titillation than the big two can offer. Buxom babes? Plenty of them. Murder and intrigue? No problem. Backstage politics and infighting? That’s weirdly specific, but whatever floats your boat.

Satellite Sam #1 opens with a jaded, surly cast and crew desperately struggling to motor through a live airing of the titular tv show for which the main star is mysteriously absent. Fraction does a fine job of wringing every bit of tension out of a scenario naturally wrought with it. What could be more nerve wracking than live television? Everything can go wrong and does, and keeping the countless issues and headaches from revealing themselves on the air provides the characters with stakes in bulk.  What Fraction offers more than anything in Satellite Sam is a fascinating peek behind the curtain, not only of a live tv show, but of an era as a whole. Set in the fifties, a decade so long associated with innocence and chastity, Fraction’s revelation of a seedy underbelly is immediately gripping. Sex and death were no less prevalent then than now, but with decades of Norman Rockwell paintings and Leave it to Beaver seared into our collective unconscious, it sure does feel that way. Fraction’s contrast of perception with reality of the time may be familiar territory, trodden upon already in full by the likes of David Lynch and countless others, but it’s no less powerful.

The real star of Satellite Sam, however, is definitely artist Howard Chaykin. Fraction is aiming for the visceral here, and images will always impact that sector of the human psyche more than ideas. Chaykin’s black and white art provides a messy, faded, old school sexy quality that does wonders to put the reader in the precise head space suited to the story. The whole book feels like picking up a forgotten yet fantastic piece of pulp from 60 odd years ago. All the girls have lines and angles where they should have curves, with vintage allure that sets them apart from the modern standards for beauty we’re all so accustomed to. Even passerby in crowds command the eye to linger with their pin-up good looks. Chaykin’s sex and Fraction’s darkness prove a potent combo, and make of Satellite Sam a series that merits watching.