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Family Ties: An Alaskan Crime Drama

Review

Family Ties: An Alaskan Crime Drama

John Gotti, famed crime boss of the notorious Gambino family, once said, “If you think your boss is stupid, remember: You wouldn’t have a job if he was any smarter.” This sentiment rings true in FAMILY TIES, an Alaskan crime drama written by Eric Hobbs following a fictional mafia family whose aging figurehead is looking to abdicate and cede power to his son and daughters. But as books, movies and television have shown us many times, the transfer of power within crime families is never easy. There is always something more, lying just underneath the story itself --- something very familiar.

Hobbs has had work published by companies as diverse as DC, Dark Horse, NBM and Arcana. His first graphic novel, BROADCAST, was also drawn by artist Noel Tuazon, and gained rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Here, Tuazon’s sketched style is accented by watercolor blacks and grays, and lends the story a noir resonance while also allowing for a good deal of action throughout. The simple yet effective way this story flows across the page is its best quality, drawing you ever further into a tale of mystery, intrigue, deception and murder.

"Hobbs deliberately crafts his story as an homage to KING LEAR, and gives the story a well-deserved update in the process. In a world where one hand washes the other, the epic tale of tragedy, betrayal and loss still hits home today."

The story begins with Jackie, an aging Alaskan crime boss, who is showing signs of dementia that threaten to undermine his businesses, legitimate and otherwise. His two daughters, both born and raised in the lap of luxury with a silver spoon never far from their grasp, are eager to gain more power and move on up the food chain in the family trade. Jackie, however, hopes to relinquish the bulk of his empire to his son, Cain --- who wishes to do anything but take over for his father. Cain aspires to be a registered nurse, and hopes to help his father in his twilight years. But in the fashion of a true tyrant, a disgusted Jackie disowns his son --- only to realize this was the worst mistake he could ever make. His daughters have only been biding their time, and use this opportune moment of weakness to further their own gains.

If any of this seems a little too familiar, you only need to dig up your Shakespeare. Hobbs deliberately crafts his story as an homage to KING LEAR, and gives the story a well-deserved update in the process. In a world where one hand washes the other, the epic tale of tragedy, betrayal and loss still hits home today. Family is family, whether crime is involved or not, and every family has its issues. When violence and a ruthless grab for power are both added to the mix, things can get sticky. A page-turner for sure, FAMILY TIES will keep you at the edge of your seat.

The raw, emotive energy Tuazon pours onto the page gives Hobbs’ words a new. However, the reader should take pause while thumbing through the fast-paced story. As well as the imagery works, the artistic style is sometimes hard to discern. Prime examples of this are Jackie and his two underbosses, all aging men with similar features. The story feels very comfortable and familiar, and small details hidden in the fast strokes on the page can easily be hurried over. (This isn’t intended as a criticism of Tuazon’s style by any means, but note that readers may find themselves doubling back to re-evaluate panels if they attempt to barrel through the book.)

This is only Hobbs second graphic novel, and he’s doing quite the job making his name as a writer to keep one’s eye on. Fans of The Godfather, KING LEAR or crime dramas in general, this book will slake your thirst. Out from NBM Publishing in paperback this year, this lovingly-crafted update of a Shakespeare classic is worth the read.

Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on August 15, 2014

Family Ties: An Alaskan Crime Drama
by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2014
  • Genres: Crime, Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1561637297
  • ISBN-13: 9781561637294