David DiAngelo

Created by Tim Broderick

“The new economy is all about links. Don’t have enough time to do that special task? I do. And all you have to do is link up…”

DAVID DiANGELO earns his living doing odd jobs, sometimes extremely odd, in Tim Broderick’s smart, quirky, ground-breaking web comic, the aptly-titled Odd Jobs, which ran on various spots around the information superhighway in the early, heady days of the internet– including this site.

David doesn’t consider himself a private eye — he makes that very clear to a potential client in the very first story arc– but he certainly does fall under this site’s definition of one, more a Travis McGee salvage consultant-type than a straight P.I., but a P.I. nonetheless. And the creator is certainly familiar with the genre — he’s confided to me that he has big plans for David to be “shot at, beaten with the butt of a shotgun, whacked with a two-by-four, have a wheelbarrel-load of bricks thrown at him, almost poisoned, shot at again, tied up, beaten with fists, stripped down to his shorts and caged, almost blown up, almost strangled, cut with a machete and beaten. And that’s just the stories I’ve plotted.”

But, make no mistake, although he can take care of himself, David’s more suit-and-tie geek than two-fisted bruiser. He’s solemn and straight as they come, but he can make that cursor fly. In fact, David’s one plugged-in, connected kinda guy. He uses the web to do research, plan trips and keep in touch. As well as a home computer, he’s got a small handheld to keep in touch when he’s on the road.

The strip only looks simple. A big part of the strip’s appeal is its defiant smarts, and its perceptive take on the brave new technology. The new economy may be all about links, but it’s the broken links and the resulting desolation and alienation that David (and Broderick) probe so well.

That mood is perfectly captured, a great brooding sense of world-weariness and loneliness that many try to achieve, but few manage to pull off without resorting to hoary film noir clichés.

That Broderick nails it down with a few lines and a handful of text is just amazing. It may scare away the average fanboy, but then, it’s not aimed them. This is a true adult comic — intended for grown-ups, not some juvenile wanking fantasy for horny sixteen year olds.

Broderick says he wanted to avoid making his cartoon character too much of a cartoon character, and he’s succeeded. The characters are believable, and real. And the complicated, understated relationship between David and his neighbour, Helena Ferar, is all too real. Even the fact that she’s some kind of psychic empath is handled in a credible fashion. Of course, because Helena seems to attract people who need help, she’s also one of David’s main sources of work .

The clean (and deliberate) sparseness of the artwork and the direct but nuanced and literate storytelling made this one of the better crime comics I’g read in years. With Odd Jobs, Broderick has created an instant comic classic, easily on a par with such contemporaries as David Lapham’s ongoing Stray Bullets, Vertigo’s Scene of the Crime or Max Allan Collins and Piers Rayners’ Road To Perdition graphic novel, and far superior to some of the more pretentious, overblown pretenders to the crime comic throne of the era (I’m looking at you, Sin City!)

Alas, when the Great Recession hit, and the fourth story arc, Children of the Revolution, was never completed. As the author puts it, “a lot of things changed. What had started as a hobby had developed into a small business. But my main source of income remained journalism and I found myself needing to pay more attention to updating my skills to remain relevant in today’s industry. That meant a lot of self-study. Essentially, I was working a day job, schooling myself at night and trying to keep up with the business of being an author. Something had to give.”

Maybe my heart? Still, hope remains eternal. I’d love to see David again, taking on iPhones, social media and donald Trump’s America. According to Tim, “Someday I hope to return to David Diangelo and his adventures.”

Artist/writer Tim Broderick was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago. He says “doing a web cartoon is a lot like performing live on a street corner. It’s earthier, less finished work but I think much more rewarding. My present style is designed to be loose, influenced by artists like Ralph Steadman, Hugo Pratt and cartoonists like Chester Gould who weren’t afraid to draw outlandish but believable characters. The minimal style is meant to reflect the minimal writing style best used by Dashiell Hammett.” By the way, Tim is the first web cartoonist to be voted full, active membership in Mystery Writers of America.

UNDER OATH

  • “The character’s reliance on up-to-date tech is a nice touch, too, in a genre that frequently ignores contemporary advances and relies on old-school cliches. If Rockford were a newly created series now, this is how he’d work, I think.”
    — Duane Spurlock
  • “Broderick’s boxy, minimalist pen-and-ink drawings may not win any artistic awards, but his sure command of plot and dialogue has already earned him an option from Warner Brothers for a possible TV series based on Diangelo’s unusual escapades.
    –Carl Hays (Booklist) on Cash & Carry
  • “A deceptively textured commentary on the vagaries of modern life and the loss of privacy, CASH & CARRY is a fine blend of comic strip and corruption, of panic and paranoia. It’s both fun and frightening.”
    –Reed Farrel Coleman

STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR’S MOUTH

  • “I lost pretty much all my ‘angry young man’ artwork in a basement flood a few years back. I think that helped get me back into drawing. I hadn’t done anything like Odd Jobs since the mid-’80s, when I had to decide whether to pursue my art or make a living. Now that I’m making a living, I figure I can pursue my art for a while. If it hadn’t been for the censorship that occured in the 1950s, I would have probably been working in comics for many years, maybe even had a degree in comics! Instead, I’ve got a journalism degree and have worked in newspapers for many years. As my revenge, when my kids are older I intend to let them read the complete set of “Tales from the Crypt” reprints.”
    — Tim Broderick

WEB COMICS

 

  • ODD JOBS: LOST CHILD
    (2000-May 2001, timbroderick.net/keenspace.com/thrillingdetective.com)
    Written and drawn by Tim Broderick
    “It was published weekly on a hand-coded timbroderick.net,” the author confesses. “This was so long ago, I had the chance to purchase the URL oddjobs.com but passed it up.”
  • ODD JOBS: SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON
    (June 2001-February 2003, moderntales.com/thrillingdetective.com)
    Written and drawn by Tim Broderick
  • ODD JOBS: CASH & CARRY
    (March 2003 –April 2005, moderntales.com/thrillingdetective.com)
    Written and drawn by Tim Broderick
  • ODD JOBS: CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
    (2007 –)
    Written and drawn by Tim Broderick
    Never completed.

COLLECTIONS

  • ODD JOBS: SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON Buy this book
    (2003, Modern Tales)
    With an embarrassingly fawning intro by the editor of this site.
  • ODD JOBS: SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON | Buy this book
    (2005, Twilight Tales)
    New edition, with a four-colour cover and a new intro, by crimewriter Joe Konrath.
  • ODD JOBS: CASH & CARRY | Buy this book
    (2008, Echelon Press)

SHORT STORIES

  • “Company Man”
    David Diangelo’s first case, once available free online.
  • “Feeding Frenzy” (2007, Wall Street Noir)
    A cartoon story.

RELATED LINKS

  • Tim Broderick.net
    Tim’s official web site, with access to past strips, the full scoop on Odd Jobs, and all sorts of other way cool stuff.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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