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Pay-what-you-want comic book 'The Private Eye' looks at Los Angeles in 2076

A futuristic MacArthur Park from digital comic book
A futuristic MacArthur Park from digital comic book "The Private Eye." (Look closer for the KTLA reference.)
Panel Syndicate
A futuristic MacArthur Park from digital comic book
The future of Hollywood Boulevard as seen in comic book "The Private Eye."
Panel Syndicate

“The Private Eye” is a new comic book from two of the most acclaimed writers in comics: Writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin, joined by colorist Muntsa Vicente. And it’s available online, DRM-free, in multiple formats, for however much you want to pay for it.

The book takes place in 2076 Los Angeles, and you get references to “Upper Wilshire Boulevard,” an elevated Expo Line train with an ad for a government-sponsored L.A. Times on it, offices in the Chateau Marmont and more that make it feel very L.A. You event get a futuristic MacArthur Park, a small KTLA reference and the 2076 version of Hollywood and Vine.

It’s a also a cultural critique, going from today’s paparazzi to a world where taking someone’s picture without their consent is illegal and journalists are elevated to the role of law enforcement. Some of the other details of the world include a mainstreaming of furry culture, marijuana being sold like cigarettes and the Internet being no more. (But at least we have hover cars.)

Vaughan is no stranger to big ideas and groundbreaking entertainment. He was a producer on “Lost” and is working on the new Stephen King show “Under The Dome,” and has also created several hugely popular indie comics, including “Saga,” “Y: The Last Man” and “Ex Machina.” Martin’s work has been featured in comics like “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Daredevil.”

The comics are being sold through a site the creators have made called Panel Syndicate, and if the distribution scheme ends up being successful, they hope to expand. They also have an eye on a wider audience — their first comic is already available in several languages.

In the wake of something like the “Veronica Mars” movie Kickstarter, and the success of numerous other comics projects on Kickstarter, some might see that as the way to go, but Vaughan explains in the afterward for the first issue of “The Private Eye” why they opted to do something different.

“Marcos and I really like sites like Kickstarter, but as relatively old hands in the biz, we didn’t want to shake the tin cup until we had a finished project to share,” Vaughan writes.

The series is planned to go 10 issues, one a month. You can find out more at PanelSyndicate.com. You can also read a review of the first issue at one of my favorite comic book websites, iFanboy.