Review by Frank Plowright
The Long Con’s premise is that deep within a quarantined area of California offering no exit, there’s a comic, fantasy and SF convention that’s just kept going post-disaster, their society evolving to mirror that of old SF TV show Skylarks. Differences of opinion between adherents of the TV and cinema versions have escalated to real armed conflicts. Volume 1 ended with returning journalist Victor Lai skirting the assorted dangers to meet the head of the resistance.
Helvetica Caslon was briefly seen in the first volume, and she’s a welcomingly imposing personality, hers a different form of madness from that infecting much of the remainder. A frustrated showrunner on Skylarks in the 1980s, she later became an editor, but the enclosed environment suits her controlling tendencies. Her discoveries are supplied by writers Dylan Merconis and Ben Coleman to explain some of the more unlikely elements of Volume 1, such as the quantity of real weapons, while other surprises await concerning people previously seen. The best character is long-awaited, and pedantically supplied in a funny final chapter. It even provides an answer to what caused the apocalypse.
While the misgivings about the plot are fewer this time, the art of Ea Denich remains The Long Con’s standout quality. Her characters have character, while there’s a fun attention to detail about the costumes worn by the assorted Skylarks casts, and other fantasy convention standbys.
Merconis and Coleman have a love for what they’re satirising, so this is cheerful and good-natured with the knife never cutting too deep, but they do point out that perhaps there are TV show contradictions that can never be reconciled. The greater emphasis on parody this time at the cost of the adventure plot makes this conclusion a more satisfying experience, although the ending is abrupt.