Writer: Dave Chisholm, Illustrator: Dave Chisholm, Editor: Josh Frankel, Print Artist: Dave Chisholm, Designer: Dave Chisholm.
As a fan of Dave Chisholm's work on Canopus and Chasin' the Bird: Charlie Parker in California, I was more than elated to find myself in possession of his newest work produced through Z2 Comics, Enter the Blue. Chisholm delivers a well-composed fusion of music and comics that is saturated with Jazz history that is at once intricate as well as accessible. The story radiates a thoughtful relatability, one rooted in the constant balancing act of fear and courage that defines our ambitions.
Jessie Choi wants to play music that stands out, that feels authentic, that feels like her, but she never feels good enough. The fear of failing ultimately outweighs her passion to play, and she leaves her trumpet abandoned for years. After her mentor enters a mysterious coma, Jessie must rely on rumors about the Blue to discover what happened. Chisholm lays out a simple premise that he spins into a delicate story of finding one's own artistic voice. The writing expertly zigzags from moments that are grounded and emotional to zany and outrageous, in a flurry of erratic story beats that feel apt for this Jazz narrative.
Enter the Blue's visuals are its crowning achievement, with vibrant colors and stylistic panel work that glues the music and comics together. Jazz albums, with their square-paneled shapes are used to great effect throughout the book. Whether as chapter cards or as literal settings, Chisholm manages to integrate the music into the fabric of the comic. Bars of music serve as guides across complex pages, but also as portals to other planes of being. Chisholm allows every use of music a certain versatility, one that suits whatever is needed in that moment of the story, often transcending panels themselves. This nice interplay of music and the comics form is right where Chisholm seems most at home.
I'm thinking that Enter the Blue earns a coveted 5 out of 5 POPs for style and musical talent! Enter the Blue is out now!
If the intersection of comics and music jive with your sensibilities, then do I have quite the cache of Dave Chisholm recommendations for you! After picking up Enter the Blue from Z2 Comics here, check out the hit comic Instrumental, an apocalyptic journey of a forlorn trumpeter. You may also like the intensely beautiful and biographical Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California. If musical intervention has no place in your comics preference, I may be so bold as to recommend the introspective sci-fi epic Canopus from Scout Comics!
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.