Stories about jaded, adrift young adults are plentiful in the indie comics genre, but All Nighter has more to offer than generic hand-wringing. For one thing, there’s that opening line: “My name is Kit Bradley. Nine years ago, I killed my mother.”

That is one hell of a teaser, but writer/artist Dave Hahn is taking his time in peeling back main character Kit’s layers. She’s an art student in a dead-end relationship she can’t quite leave, and she’s a thief who, while guilt-ridden, rationalizes her actions. Don’t we all?

On the surface, Kit appears to be your typical alt-skewing kid who wears angst as naturally as her Joy Division T-shirts. She gets along well with her father, and the people in her life will be familiar to anyone who has ever been 20 years old: The rock-solid best friend. The grating (or strange) roommate. The potential love interest who slipped through the cracks.

Hahn makes good use of flashbacks to put Kit’s current life into perspective. You can see how she fell for boyfriend Dwayne, who once upon a time was her cute, freshman year “soulmate.” But even as she goes about her life — going to class, hanging out at parties, worrying about cash flow — the big questions persist: Why did Kit kill her mother? Is she a sociopath or did she have good reason?

In this five-issue run, Hahn will explore the hot-button topic of “missing white woman syndrome,” defined as the media’s fixation on attractive, young white women who vanish. Also ripe for analysis is Kit’s new roommate, a mousy girl who subsists on cereal and makes a startling claim in issue #2.

All Nighter begs to be made into an animated feature. That probably has a lot to do with Hahn’s crisp, black-and-white illustrations, which reminded me a bit of those in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. It’s not just the identical coloring. Both have a style that is reminiscent of cartoon art without being cartoonish, and this story could translate to film as successfully as Persepolis did. Just two issues in, it’s loaded with intrigue, memorable characters, and slow-boiling drama. You get the sense that a big, satisfying reveal is just around the corner.

Comics readers often say they crave more smart, unpredictable stories, and Hahn’s creation meets that standard. I sincerely hope that this well-written and strikingly illustrated book finds the broad audience it deserves.

5 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: All Nighter

  1. I’m assuming you didn’t mean it like this, but unless you’re saying non-white girls can’t be attractive, “missing white woman syndrome” is about something very different than a fixation on ATTRACTIVE girls… :-P


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