“Dry Foot” #1

“Dry Foot” #1 is a tale of four friends looking to steal from the rich and corrupt in 1980s Miami. They’re kids, they’re ambitious … and they’re probably in for a lot of trouble.

Dry Foot #1 Cover
Cover by Orlando Caicedo

Script: Jarred Luján
Art:
Orlando Caicedo
Colors:
Warnia Sahadewa
Letters:
Justin Birch
Editor:
Chris Fernandez
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios

Luján and Caicedo craft a believable, character-forward world in this first issue. In the first two pages, we’re introduced to El Viejo with a clever blend of narration and violent montage. He’s an imposing figure who, quite literally, emerges from the underworld (or basement, if you want to be pedantic) and into the daylight utterly secure in his grip on the populace. Caicedo gives us El Viejo by inches: his hands, his arms, his torso, his silhouette. He’s a drug kingpin, a murderer and an absolute wall of a man who dominates every panel, and on the page turn we transition with the clean crack of the bat and ball to our four protagonists. De-powered, perhaps, but not for long.

“Dry Foot” is inspired by the cinema of its era in the best possible way – that is to say, there’s plenty here in terms of building character both directly and indirectly, but the team isn’t afraid to pay homage to what makes heist and buddy movies so compelling. Luján has an ear for dialogue that feels authentic to the friends’ age group, and that’s harder to pull off than one might think. There’s the right level of banter and chattiness between the four friends, clever narration to fill in some initial character detail and the looming threat of El Viejo, expertly established at the beginning of the book. Caicedo’s angular, peaky faces and stretchy limbs help capture the friction of youth without infantilizing the group. This sometimes feels a bit static, but plenty of action lines and expressive outbursts make up the difference. Simple backgrounds rely on cartoon shorthand and mean that when details pop up, we notice. This is especially key as each of the kids return home, and we learn something unique about all of them based on what’s waiting for them there. 

Sahadewa’s work helps bring Miami alive. The sinister shadows and nightlife hues of El Viejo’s underground scene are echoed with milder pastels in the daytime, and the baseball diamond features a few contrasting gradient backgrounds for maximum impact. Sahadewa adds some rosy hues and light pops to each of the characters in the fight scene, which simultaneously makes them feel youthful and as if they’re pinned under a perpetual spotlight. Each household is a variation on similar palettes, and Sahadewa draws blue down through the page that features each character on their walkie talkies. Of particular note here are the thin outlines of blue around Angel in the darkness and the slight dot texture around the walkie-talkie antenna.

Birch picks an excellent, poppy font that’s bold enough to take up space and simple enough to complement Caicedo’s line. Sahadewa’s hues are put to good use in the narrative boxes, and Birch incorporates a lot of simple but effective sound effects throughout the book. There’s a nice, thick stroke on the balloons that adds to the cartoonishness of the book’s aesthetic without cheapening it, and fat little tails make best use of the space on the page.

Overall, “Dry Foot” #1 is a compelling, lovingly crafted ode to the movies we grew up with and a chance for Latinx creators to tell a Miami story without the sensationalized voyeurism we see so often from white comic writers and artists. There are plenty of those stories out there that succeed in various ways, but “Dry Foot” tells a story with heart and without wasting time in its first issue on the 101 for white audiences. It’ll be interesting to see how the friends succeed in their ambitious ventures, and if this first issue is any indication, we’re in for a lot of chaos and fun in short order.

The Verdict: 8.5/10 – “Dry Foot” #1 ditches the slick and the cool, and instead focuses on character growth and heart in a successful first issue.

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