As a kid growing up in New York City, it always amazed me how every other business in Time Square seemed to be either a peepshow or porn theater, and how they were just out there in the open.
Peepland, created by Christa Faust and Gary Philips with art by Andrea Camerini, takes a look at the seedy underbelly of New York circa 1986, specifically the peepshow industry. One thing you notice right off the bat is that this comic is not for kids. There is an abundance of nudity and profanity laced throughout the panels, adding a gritty realism that’s often missing in comics that try to tackle such a theme.
The action starts off frenetic and somewhat confusing as the panels alternate between the introduction of Roxanne (Roxy) Bell, an employee at one of the peepshow theaters, showing her wares and Dirty Dick Durbin, a porn cameraman, running desperately from two thugs who are chasing him over the content of a VCR tape.
Dirty Dick winds up at the peepshow and leaves the VCR tape with Roxy before running off again. I don’t want to get into too many specifics as I don’t want to spoil the story, but inevitably the tape will prove to be bad news for Roxy.
Again, the starts off somewhat hectic and confusing and it took me multiple readings before I understood who everyone was and their specific motivations, but things eventually became clearer and I was able to see how the story is set up for future issues.
The art, although not the best I’ve seen, is still pretty good, but more importantly it fits the story as the panels depicts mid ’80s New York well. Marko Lesko also does a good job with the colors displaying a lot of neon common to that scene.
Besides Roxy and Dirty Dick there are other characters introduced who portend to play roles in the story moving forward. We meet Roxy’s on-again off-again boyfriend Nick, who watches the content of the tape with Roxy. There’s also a side story involving Roxy’s co-worker (possibly her best friend) Aisha and her lesbian girlfriend AJ, who also gets some panel time as she begrudgingly robs a store with her older brothers.
Finally, besides the thugs who are trying to find the tape, we also meet two police officers who came off a bit clichéd as they treat the girls at the peepshow like trash while investigating a murder. Overall, I like the comic and the story has me interested enough to I’ll pick up the next issue to see where it goes.
Peepland is published by Hard Case Comics, which is a new comic publisher that concentrates on crime and noir themes making it one to watch if you’ re a fan of that genre.