Chandler meets C-3PO...

The Blue Lily

Issues 1 - 2

by Angus McKie

Published by Dark Horse in 1993

Buy used copies on Amazon HERE.

Rusty Spade, Private Investigator.

Rusty's a robot. He's a special kind, a '500' series, which is impervious to straying from the truth or intentionally deceiving anyone. His diction is straight out of Raymond Chandler, dry sardonic wit mixed with a whiff of philosophical observation. Mr. Spade's world is a mechanized cityscape where robots and machinery do all the basic labor.


As a private investigator he's called upon by Emilia Reinhaven, a rich heiress to a banking empire. Her husband Richard Reinhaven has gone missing. Mr. Spade, being a 500 and incapable of corruption or bribery is given the task of finding him. Of course, things go quickly askew when he does come across Mr. Reinhaven (simply following the ATM machines he's using for cash). Apparently, Richard is in great danger and is on the run. Rusty Spade tries to talk with him, introducing himself but before anything can happen he gets involved in a fight with a big brute.

Flower Motif.

Later, after getting some repairs to his metal body Rusty gets a message on his machine from Mr. Reinhaven. It's a coded message, dropping hints about the constellations and mythology covering for 'time and place.' It's here where most of Issue One gets its steam, Spade the Investigator putting together the cryptic pieces of the puzzle so that he can get to Mr. Reinhaven. Once he's solved the puzzle however he finds it reveals a deeper darker message about worldwide calamity -unless he can talk to a woman known as The Blue Lily...

A Few Friends.

Mr. Spade is not alone. There's an ex-cop robot named Hardy, and a musclebound welder woman named Zelda. They fill out his world and help a bit in either finding the missing pieces -or fixing the broken ones.

This is an astonishingly good comic. Angus McKie's approach works in a unique way: the art is rendered in an even-handed level of detail that invites the eye to explore. The words put poetic and abstract concepts in the reader's head to let your thoughts float for a moment outside the confines of the panel. Glancing at the pages with all their many lines of script one would think this comic to be heavily 'talky'. Not so here. The writing's so good you actually look forward to diving into the reading as much as looking at the art.

Rusty Spade him(it?)self.

Angus McKie either was very smart or very lucky choosing a Robot for a private 'Eye'. His face is stolid, unmoving, stoic and seemingly unperturbed. Yet the dialog shows us the roiling chaos that streams in his consciousness (and yes, this comic does touch on Rusty Spade wondering if he's truly 'alive').

We get to know and like this 'number' as somebody we can relate to. For him, and for us, life is an imponderable infinity of numerical alternatives and permutations. One works through a problem only to uncover a network of meta-problems whose solution may just be out of reach.

Now for the Bad News.

Some artists adhere to the 'less is more' slogan. Mr. McKie went the other way, a maximalist approach that makes me wonder if there ever will be any... more?

Alas. Angus only made two issues, and Part Two ends on a cliffhanger. Taking a philosophical point of view I could say maybe the pleasure's in the journey and not the destination.


Next Two Tuesdays:

A two-parter, being it's so long.

It's set in the Cold War environment of East Berlin 1968:

Tiny Acts of Violence
by Martin Stiff

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