Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Cundle reviews TKO”s Goodnight Paradise#1 out now…
Goodnight Paradise #1
Writer: Joshua Dyshart
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Colourist: Giulia Brusco
Letterer: Steve Wands
By the time I was twenty-five, I’d had my share of the other side of the tracks. I’d wanted to change the world, so after leaving university I became a substance abuse counsellor and helped to set up and run a needle exchange programme, figuring that the best place to start making a difference was by helping people who had, for whatever reason, fallen by the wayside. The problem though, is that the world is resistant to change, as are most of the folks in it. I learned that lesson the hard way. After I’d picked myself up and come to terms with what I’d been taught by my career “choice”, I changed tack and took my first tentative steps into journalism. I’ve been working in that sphere ever since and I like it here. But sometimes you need to be removed from your comfort zone and face your demons head on, and Goodnight Paradise made me look mine straight in the eye, as it brought me back to a place that I thought I’d left behind a long time ago.
It isn’t an easy book to read, but it isn’t supposed to be. It isn’t about traditional heroes and villains chasing each other in a whitewashed, overly-familiar environment, and its leading man is far from endearing. Truth be told, he and his supporting players are barely sympathetic. Goodnight Paradise takes the generic noir murder mystery, flips it on its head and takes it down an unexpected, unexplored road. Set in Venice Beach, it’s the story of Eddie, a homeless alcoholic facing multiple crises, who spends his life drinking his days away in L.A.’s community of the downtrodden and forgotten. Life is perfectly fine for Eddie, who drifts through his very own little Paradise until he stumbles across something that proves to be life-changing. He finds a body in a dumpster, and despite trying to rid himself of the memory, his conscience forces him to do the right thing. Eddie then begins to investigate what happened to the girl he found abandoned in the trash.
As opening chapters go, the first issue of Goodnight Paradise fulfils its remit. It draws you straight into Eddie’s life and through a combination of credible, realistic dialogue and characterisation, wonderfully executed storytelling and beautifully rendered, exquisitely detailed art, makes you care about what happens to the protagonist and his broken companions. By confronting his audience with an all too real vision of the world that is far closer to us than we realize, Dyshart forces his readers to confront the truth about gentrification and how it can subtly morph and spread into other areas of society. Goodnight Paradise, as I’ve already said, isn’t an easy book to read, but given the chance you won’t be able to put it down. Just when I thought I was out, and that I’d finally escaped my pesky social conscience, Joshua Dyshart found a way to drag me back in again…