Written by: Alejandro Rodriguez, Special to CC2K
People are constantly crossing paths with others in the Big Apple, but even the most minor interaction with someone could change someone’s attitude towards life.
Pawn Shop, written by former IGN Comics Editor Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman, follows the lives of four lost souls who live in the city that never sleeps. Although different in their own way, each character is bound to each other by a pawn shop in New York. The comic got off the ground thanks to a kickstarter campaign that drew a lot of attention thanks to Esposito’s work on Fables and his first book Footprints (which is about a Bigfoot detective), which was also funded thanks to kickstarter.
The four chapters in Pawn Shop are designated to Harold, an elderly widow who is looking for his wife’s mannequin bust; Arthur, a nurse who is having a difficult time trying to balance his work life with his love life; Jen, a drug addict who is having a difficult time trying live in New York City; and Samantha, a New York City employee who is dealing with the guilt of no longer possessing the strength to care for her brother.
The story is solid on it’s own, even without breaking up the stories into four chapters, Pawn Shop would have been an interesting read. Each character is reasonably fleshed out and could have probably carried their own story on their own. That said, interactions are the strongest through Samantha, who punches Harold’s tickets when he goes into New York and Arthur who is taking care of Samantha’s little brother while harboring strong emotions for her. Haunted by the accident that killed her parents and put her brother in a coma, Samantha is trying to keep a grip as bills keep piling up at a rate faster than she can manage.
Jen on the other hand doesn’t have the same types of interaction with characters as Samantha does. Jen does inspire Arthur to change, and her interactions with Harold are essential to each others stories, but both are so brief that they happen in only a few panels. Her time with Samantha is so non-existent that her story would have been the same even if they cut out Samantha’s cameo. It’s the lack of interaction with the other characters that makes Jen interesting. She’s such an odd woman out when compared to the rest of the characters in Pawn Shop that you actually want to know more about her. There is a lot of untapped potential for Jen, too much to be played out in one short chapter.
The art of Pawn Shop is rather nice and has fits the story perfectly. Gorman doesn’t stray away from showing characters with wrinkles, blemishes, and pimples. They can look a little ugly, but that’s one of the nice things about Pawn Shop, sharing the same flaws that normal people have is something that doesn’t show up that often, even in indie comics.
The colors for Pawn Shop are done by Jonathan Moore and Sean Von Gorman, while neither one is better than the other, Moore’s pages tend to be darker and more filled out than Gorman’s. These differences don’t take anything away from the comic and might even be more fitting since the first chapter, colored by Gorman, has a lighter feel to it than the later chapters.
Pawn Shop tries something different than most comics by giving the reader a playlist of songs to listen to while reading their chapters. The music is pretty varied, with artists from Ella Fitzgerald to the Smiths. Each playlist does a pretty good job of defining the character in their chapters, but some artists seem out of place for the characters they represent. Jen has some pretty interesting artists in her playlist, but it feels like whoever was in charge of the playlists decided to stick with the indie/folk music aesthetic from the other playlists. It’s not difficult to find punk and metal songs about drug abuse, abandonment, and fear, so it’s confusing to see Jen’s playlist filled with artists like Tom Petty and Elliot Smith. The only songs that fit well are “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey and “Iron Man” by Nico Vega.
Pawn Shop is a pretty interesting comic; it’s more down to earth than even some other indie comics out there, with the inclusion of music playlists and interconnecting stories it tries to be different, but the problem may be in just how short it is. If the chapters were longer or even if there were more characters for the others to work off of then Pawn Shop may have been able to give off a better-rounded presentation. Unfortunately the book comes to an end rather quickly and some characters get looked over more than others. Pawn Shop does have an interesting story, but doesn’t pull it off as perfectly as it should have.