RARA-AVIS: Re: Comics

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 14 Nov 2002

>I like Miller's work too, though I find his SIN CITY slightly hollow in
>comparison - although it is a wonderfully fun and highly stylised
>Chandler-Spillaine pastiche, with fantastic art.

I'd have to agree. Miller's skill with large areas of black ink far surpasses his writing skill. For crime comics, go with Vertigo's 100 BULLETS or some of their other mini-series, most of which are collected in graphic novels. SCENE OF THE CRIME and JONNY DOUBLE are particularly worth tracking down.

And yes, Brian Michael Bendis's work is worth reading. JINX, about a bounty hunter, GOLDFISH, about two lowlifes, and TORSO, a drak, nightmarish fictionalization of a true crime story investigated by Elliot Ness, et al, are all good reads, and all have been collected in graphic novels.

Going back a few years, Max Allan Collins (the Nate Heller series, etc.) and Terry Beatty's MS. TREE is still the yardstick by which a continuing series in the hard-boiled crime category should be judged. The series jumped from publisher to publisher, but most of it is available in graphic novel form. Nothing fancy, and Beatty's
"just-the-facts, Ma'am" drawing style is miles away from the stylized artistry of Miller or Risso, but like Collins meat-and-potatoes prose, or Ms. Tree herself, it gets the job done.

Verotik, an imprint of Dark Horse, is bringing out some nice graphic novels of European crime stuff, but they're pretty hot or miss. Most hinge on the supernatural, coincidence, a lot of naked breasts, and often, a view of the U.S. that borders on the mythical, and could only be imagined by someone who's never been there and has seen way too many bad movies.

Of course, most of these comics can also be tracked down by individual copies, if you've got the patience. Individual copies of Ms. Tree might be worth it for the letters page alone. It's like an early version of this list, almost. In fact, that's where I first came across the feverish but always interesting rantings of Big Jim Doherty.

Hmmm... Max Allan Collins would be a good person to join this list, but in the time it would take him to write a post, he could probably whip off a book or two.


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