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CONCEPTUAL HEIST – Review by The Comic Book Yeti

  • Small Press

  • CONCEPTUAL HEIST, VOL. 1

    Writer: Jay D’Ici
    Illustrator: Matt G. Gagnon
    Publisher: Self-published

    Conceptual Heist #1, cover, self-published, D'Ici/Gagnon

    WHAT IS IT?

    A futuristic, art-themed heist featuring a strong female lead and Sci-Fi elements.

    Imagine a futuristic, gender-swapped The Thomas Crown Affair.

    WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

    (Minor Spoilers)

    Jemma Heiss is a thief who poses as a private museum curator. She believes stealing from the very rich is fine because they have so much money, and have “stolen” much of it from the poor. So she shows up to an event, intending to steal a classic, massively expensive painting. You can probably guess which one by the cover image! But this heist may be more difficult than she expected. Her plans start to go sideways and her luck doesn’t seem like it’s on her side, either. Should she call off the heist and cut her losses? Or can she pull it off, even when things aren’t going her way? The first issue works as a one-shot, introducing us to the cast of characters, this world set roughly 60-80 years in the future, and the kind of tone and heists to expect. Later issues deal with some of the fallout of the first issue, and sets up a suspenseful new heist…in space!

    WHAT WORKS?

    • It’s clear that Jay D’Ici is a fan of the crime genre and heist stories, and he balances the action and necessary set-up well, keeping you interested throughout
    • Because it was originally written for weekly updated on Webtoon, Tumblr and other sites and apps, you get a kind of built-in suspense every few pages that really makes it a page-turner of a comic
    • The futuristic spy tech was fascinating without being over-the-top or unbelievable
    • Some sexual tension in later issues builds in an extra layer of depth and stakes to the heist
    • There’s a definite “look” to the comic, a classy elegance that merges the 1920s with a futuristic aesthetic, and it makes for a really timeless, enjoyable comic
    • D’Ici mentions “Jazzpunk” in the 1st issue’s extra content, and I like that as a descriptor – wish it had a jazzy, Cowboy Bebop-like soundtrack to go with it!
    • Speaking of backmatter, the Kickstartered (“Kickstarted”?), colored issues come with some interesting behind-the-scenes content, and more
    • It’s cool seeing Matt G. Gagnon experiment more and more with design and panel layout
    • The flourishes at the top and bottom of every page was a nice add that elevates the entire comic
    • There’s a really great scene where a 9-panel grid is used to show planned actions during a conversation, almost like a film’s action montage as characters run through their plans, and it was very well-executed
    • The inking was also strong, possibly because the comic is meant to be viewed first without color, with a keen eye for chiaroscuro and line weight for different characters and depth of field
    • The color palette from atelierMUSE is muted, but also makes some of the busier panels easier to parse and brings the environments to life all the more
    • I especially liked the movement color holds – they work well in the style of the book’s lettering and build on the original art
    • The lettering works very well with the book’s tone and art theme, immersive, with delicate flourishes for tails
    • Downplayed sound effects fit effortlessly with the action without muddling the already crowded panels
    • It’s free on Webtoons!

    WHAT DOESN’T WORK?

    • Jemma’s a bit of a Mary Sue
    • Even when she’s in danger, it’s more due to bad luck than her own personal failings
    • We get her in a little more danger of being caught in later issues, but I think the book could play up the suspense and near-failure to an even higher degree in the future
    • I think she could use a little more nuance to really bring her to life
    • If ever her past is explored, like why she’s not running her father’s security business, that might be a good time to layer that part of her personality in
    • The first issue is tight, well-rounded between action and exposition, but later issues can feel slower, weighed-down by heavy dialogue and exposition
    • It feels mostly necessary to show the reader what the plan is and build that tension, and you don’t notice it as much when you’re reading weekly on Webtoon (for example), but when you’re reading all at once, it can definitely feel like a lot of reading and little action
    • Though the first 2 issues have color, later ones don’t yet have it because color wasn’t part of the original comic
    • While the color definitely adds to the story, Gagnon does a solid job of making his line are clear, sometimes adding flat color when necessary
    • Cursing may make this not the best read for kids, but there isn’t much else offensive in the series
    Conceptual Heist #1, self-published, D'Ici/Gagnon

    WHY SHOULD I READ IT?

    D’Ici and Gagnon have created a story rife with possibility. It’s an enjoyable heist comic with legs for days, made by a team that works very well together. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

    WHAT DO I READ NEXT?

    If you like the writing:

    • The Unfinding of Erasmus Civitatum by Jay D’Ici & Filip Rocone
    • Heavenly Blues by Ben Kahn & Bruno Hidalgo
    • Thief of Thieves by Kirkman, Spencer, Martinbrough & Serrano

    If you like the art:

    ABOUT THE CREATORS

    Jay D’Ici – Writer

    • Multitalented: Has also worked in film & video games
    • Outlander: Hails from Montreal

    Matt G. Gagnon – Illustrator

    • Dream Team: Works with Jay D’Ici at their day job (or, at least they worked together at the time the series was started)
    • Outlander: Also lives in Montreal

    atelierMUSE – Colorist

    • Outlander: Is actually a comics collective based out of Montreal
    • Collective is made up of artist Simon Gannon and hobbyist assistant KrisRix (whose art you’ll see in the inside cover)
    • Specializes in illustration, comics, doujinshi, storyboarding, character design, pinups, models and miniatures painting

    Shawn Baichoo – Editor

    • Outlander: Also calls Montreal his home
    • Multitalented: Is also an actor and fight choreographer who has appeared in several major video games (well, the result of his motion captured motions have, at least)
    • Detective Noble, in this comic, was modeled after him

    HOW DO I BUY IT?

    Click one of these:

    The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

    All Jay D’Ici & Matt G. Gagnon characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Jay D’Ici & Matt G. Gagnon or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

About The Author

Matt Ligeti

(AKA "The Comic Book Yeti") believes reviews should be simple and modern, written in a way that's easy for the average person to read. Wanna' know more? Send the Yeti and email at TheComicsYeti@gmail.com or visit ComicBookYeti.com

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