The Cuban Revolution was a period of monumental change for the island nation, but turmoil can also provide opportunity for those that know how to take advantage of it. On December 31, 1958, the rebels took the city of Santa Clara, asserting their dominance and thrusting Cuba into an uncertain future. Everyone’s trying to get out of the city, but for four women holding six million dollars of liberated Mob money, the stakes are especially high. The new Gallery 13 graphic novel, Bad Girls, follows this quartet over the course of a heart-stopping 12 hours, and writer Alex De Campi and artist Victor Santos are taking full advantage of the political situation’s inherent drama to amplify the tension of their crime tale.
“I spent most of my adult life as an expatriate, and so Bad Girls is a story incredibly close to my heart,” says De Campi. “I’ve been on the ground and watched the white people party through regime change.” The story is set against the backdrop of the revolution, but it’s not a book about the revolution, instead exploring the more intimate, personal narratives of people trying to take control of their lives in this moment of upheaval: An American jazz singer, gangster’s moll, and teenage wannabe actress, and a Cuban mambo queen/single mother leaving her home country behind.
“It’s a delight to write a noir story that stars four women as they cope with 12 hours that changed Cuba forever—and which could net them $6 million and, in the wannabe’s case, a date with Marlon Brando,” says De Campi. “While the story of Cuba’s revolution is not mine to tell, these women trying to use the ensuing chaos to escape their own personal horrors with six suitcases of stolen Mob money? Yeah. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.”
The A.V. Club has an exclusive first look at the cover and interior art for Bad Girls (on sale July 17), and Santos’ bold graphic design is front and center in all of these images. The cover is glamorous, tropical, and menacing, a vivid illustration that highlights the storytelling value of a big gun silhouette. The shadows enveloping the four woman visually tie them to the weapon, and make them pop against the bright red background, radiating a heat that carries through to the interior pages as they venture deeper into the warm Cuban environment. “Victor is my absolute perfect collaborator in this,” says De Campi. “His use of color is magical, and his design sense is so sophisticated. His art has been a joy for me to design the lettering on top of—he makes me work harder, push myself further, because I want to do justice to what he has created.”