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There are covers that offer a cool image and there are covers that set-up the issue you’re about to read. Series artist, Maria Llovet’s, covers for There’s Nothing There do both, with a preview of what’s in store and objects that reappear in the story.
Issue one, for instance, is a religious rite posing as a masquerade ball. The cover is a stained glass window of eyes above two glasses of wine. Neither glass was drunk for Communion. Orchestrated by Landhorn, the owner of the estate, he believes a man who “embodies the moment” will be born the night of his party and hosts an orgy to ensure it.
Whatever’s been summoned, he-she-it is gunning for Reno Selleti. Issue three’s cover shows her sitting on a bathroom sink, where she goes to hide from her mother’s visit, but hiding makes Reno vulnerable. Hiding isn’t how she became a star.
Writer, Patrick Kindlon, never tells us what made Reno famous but the moment she takes off her mask at the masquerade ball she’s a breath of fresh air and easy to find. Walking in like Krysten Ritter would on Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Reno makes a joke about Labyrinth without worrying if it’s sophisticated. Next to her date, Kyle Laggenworth, she cares about staying informed, squashing ridiculous small talk in her wake. She’s not beyond attending these parties, but she is beyond speaking in code, like the other guests trying to protect their reputations (I guess masks weren’t precaution enough).
Call an orgy an orgy, Reno’s not ashamed, but what’s great is Kindlon has her switch scene partners. It’s not as easy to be evolved talking to one of the waitresses as it is talking to Kyle. Casually mentioning personal drivers and never visiting Queens, the conversation tempers how enlightened she appears. Kyle isn’t so full of it, either. For all that it might seem difficult to confuse the situation, Kyle doesn’t know he’s at an orgy, and spends it, not partaking, but wondering whether Reno’s ok.
Llovet’s trippy title pages use the word, “Nothing” as a cutout. On two occasions the title takes up two pages so there can be additional photogs. That this extension is found neccessary stresses how abrasive the paparazzi are and what Reno’s accepted as the price of her celebrity. A gossip journalist corners her in a restroom while a camera crew gives out her address. These are small moments in the series but huge breaches of privacy.
Letterer, Jim Campbell [correction: Llovet should be credited for the sound effects], uses the same, scratchy lettering for sound effects, like drums during the ritual. If Landhorn were lettering this moment the “brum”-ing might look more ceremonial, to match his earnest belief. Campbell’s letters remember this is still an orgy, with all the trappings of excess and privilege.
Finally, the journey Llovet takes you on with her colors demands notice. Indoors, her colors are more natural, underneath a bright light. It’s when Reno goes outside, and the pages are tinted purple, that readers should be nervous; hot pink, and they should be alarmed. The colors of wealth and royalty, Reno loses time during blackouts where the colors go back to the way they were, but it doesn’t last. By the final issue, the colors signal the end, when the first pages open completely different from the rest.
For a playful series that serious about how we treat people in the public eye, There’s Nothing There deserves high marks.
Issues 1-5 of There’s Nothing There are available now (1-4 from the Black Mask Studios store). Volume 1 is set to come out December 13th.