ADVANCE REVIEW! All-Nighter #3 will come out on August 17, 2011.
All-Nighter is a curious beast. As another entry in the “young cool people” genre that I’m incredibly fond of (see: Scott Pilgrim, Lil Depressed Boy) it feels distinct with some solid character work and dialogue. The characters all look remarkably different from one another, each with their own personalities and each drawn with their own specific looks and manners of dress.
Similar to more ambitious joints like Forgetless and Phonogram, there seems to be more than meets the eye to these characters than just chilling, partying and chilling at parties. Apparently Katrina killed her mom somehow and the mousy new roommate Martha claims to be our heroine’s guardian angel? David Hahn, however, keeps his story grounded. If there’s anything supernatural or even remotely out of the ordinary going on, Hahn hasn’t tipped his hand yet by showing anything particularly strange.
If you’ve been keeping up, then you know that Katrina’s pretty much done with her dipshit criminal ex-boyfriend Derek, Martha is a bit eccentric and Katrina’s nonstarter of a potential boyfriend James has reentered the scene — as roommate Donna’s actual boyfriend. All-Nighter #3 is the issue where shit starts to get real, where all the problems set up in the first couple issue start coming to a head. We’re in Second Act territory, where everything goes wrong for our character and her lies eventually get revealed.
It sounds a bit CW, but let’s not let teen trash TV take away our from the relationship drama we’re all entitled to. There’s a lot to like about All-Nighter. For starters, our protagonist Katrina isn’t a cool girl with awesome hair who enters some dude’s life and turns it upside down with quirkiness; she’s actually a cool girl with awesome hair who’s trying to put her life on track, avoiding the life of a criminal fuckup while simultaneously fucking up every relationship with every other character in the book. That takes talent.
The last time I saw David Hahn’s art it was in Vertigo’s Bite Club, which I wasn’t too fond of, but maybe the seizure-inducing CSI lens-filter-style coloring was to blame. Several years later and in black and white, Hahn fares a lot better, offering a sufficient amount of detail in his linework. His characters aren’t cartoonishly expressive; instead, Hahn opts for subtle changes in expression on his characters, allowing the context and words to do as much lifting as the pictures.
Most importantly, Hahn gets how young people hang out, especially young people short on cash. It’s all people’s apartments, diners where people can hook you up with free grub, house parties thrown by kids richer than you and, of course, class. All of it rings true under Hahn’s pencils and inks and graytones, which deliver expert storytelling without being too flashy. He lets the characters speak for themselves. This earns the cinematic indulgence or two, like the image of a pair of kids standing far apart on the parapet of an overpass (I think I owe Colin Meloy some money).
And to think I’d been ignoring All-Nighter until now thanks to the first issue’s original, simplistically colored cover. That teaches me to judge a book on its cover (you’d think at this age I’d learn from clichés). As of #3, there are two issues left of this miniseries, and I can’t wait to see if David Hahn continues to hang out or ventures into stranger territory.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, “Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men,” over at Champion City Comics.