Private Beach #7

By David Hahn
24 pages, black and white
Published by Slave Labor Graphics

If you try and compare something to the television show “Twin Peaks”, all most people seem to remember was the over-the-top aspects of the show and that it became incomprehensibly strange and sputtered out into oblivion. What most people don’t remember is that the first season of “Twin Peaks” was a tightly-written show where character interactions kept audiences glued to their television sets, while a slight air of strangeness and mystery permeated the show. So when I say that Private Beach in many ways reminds me of “Twin Peaks”, I’m talking about the first season… and yes, it’s very much a compliment.

Trudy Honeyvan’s life is anything but strictly ordinary. She’s had a magic 8-ball toy that gives her strange non-standard messages. She’s worked for a club that hands out spiritual forgiveness to its patrons so they can have a guilt-free hedonistic evening. She’s pretty convinced someone or something is watching her. Her friends are slightly crazy. Oh, and now she’s lost her job. What starts out as the transporting of a car across country in an attempt to make some cash, though, is going to take the same sort of twists and turns that everything else in her life seems to these days…

David Hahn’s stories in Private Beach can’t help but bring a smile to my face. Maybe it’s because I never know what’s coming, but it’s always going to be good. Private Beach‘s plotting is surprisingly tight, with each twist and turn fitting together perfectly with what’s happened before. There’s a real sense of progression here, and while the individual pieces are forming a larger picture, Hahn makes sure that each piece on its own is enjoyable by itself. Hahn’s dialogue skills form a large part of the appeal as well, though. His characters really sound like people, with fast-moving sentences and some of the funniest one-liners and reactions I’ve seen in a while. When a single page can have 14 panels of his characters just talking about what food they want to eat that turns into a digression of prisoner’s final meals, and it’s immensely entertaining to read the conversation, now that’s talent.

Hahn’s art is a joy to look at as well. There’s an attractive wholesomeness to the characters of Private Beach; they look good, but not in a supermodel or over-exaggerated sort of way. These are normal-featured people, but there’s just something about Hahn’s smooth inks that make them all look really nice. Hahn’s certainly versatile with his subject material that he has to draw, able to render things from a “carnival fun grab” claw game to a Fabrege Egg with equal skill. For a book that mostly contains people talking and wandering around, it was a really nice surprise to see in the latest issue that Hahn can also handle action sequences just as well; there’s a great sense of confusion and disorientation that comes to the page by the way that Hahn lets the readers see what’s going on. It’s a very controlled effect, and it works perfectly to help bring across through the art what his characters are feeling when the attack comes.

Hahn is definitely someone whose star is rising, and very deservedly so. Each new issue of Private Beach gets better by leaps and bounds, and it already started out as a really entertaining book. Hahn isn’t just someone to keep an eye on, he’s someone you need to buy everything from. There are currently two Private Beach collections available; Fun and Perils in the Trudyverse which collects the original material from some years ago (which is a lot of fun in its own right, if not entirely of the same tone as the current series), and Secret Messages, which collects issues #1-6 of the current series. Since the latest issue is #7, catching up should be a real breeze to boot. What are you waiting for?

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