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Miss: Better Living Through Crime Paperback – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trust that the French would be the ones to create one of the richest, most riveting accounts of early 20th-century criminal life in New York City to be tackled in graphic novel form. Set in the 1920s and '30s, the story centers around an unlikely pair of murderers-for-hire: Nola, a tough-minded femme fatale whose wit has been sharpened by orphanage life and grim poverty, and the dapper Slim, a Harlem pimp on the run from old debts. The two make good partners. Nola, who is white, lines up clients among the white well-heeled, and Slim provides useful connections, know-how and strength. Their interracial pairing in the conventionally racist 1920s adds the element of surprise to their arsenal. Their victims seem able to see only one color at a time and one of the two almost always remains invisible until called upon for help. The beautifully integrated logic of this kind of fictional history is just one example of the layering of character and context that gives the book a literary depth. Although published in color in France, the highly stylized expressionistic drawings have been rendered in nuanced tones of gray for the U.S. edition; they expertly capture the story's complexities. This is not a typical noir tale of morally high-contrast black and white people, but one of overriding moral ambiguity. As with all good love stories, however, it's force of character that holds the book together. In place of morals, Slim and Nora substitute a fierce devotion to one another.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


...One of the richest, most riveting accounts of early 20th-century criminal life in New York City to be tackled in Graphic Novel form. --Calvin Reid, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

...You should read MISS and put it on the shelf where it belongs, next to Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson. And like me, you should anxiously await your chance to revisit this world. --Ed Brubaker, writer of CRIMINAL, INCOGNITO, & CAPTAIN AMERICA


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Product Details

  • Series: Miss
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Humanoids, Inc. (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401206360
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401206369
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,802,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
New York's interwar crime demimonde has been richly treated in fiction and film, and now we can finally add a worthy graphic novel to that list. Set in the 1920s and '30s, it's somewhat surprising to discover that such a stylish story was written and produced by three Frenchmen. Surprising until you consider that the French have always taken the American crime genre much more seriously than Americans themselves. Sometimes that adulation has gone a little overboard, but here it results in a story of great depth and tone.

It kicks off with a quick introduction to Nola, a poor white girl raised by a violent alcoholic father, prostitute/junkie mother, and eventually, nuns. Kicked out of the orphanage as a teenager, she quickly hooks up with shady private eye, and within the book's first twelve pages, she's deep in Harlem, seeing a man about a gun, getting shot at, and meeting a slick black pimp named Slim. A series of misadventures results in Nola and Slim teaming up as contract killers for the upper crust -- a lucrative line of work that allows Nola to escape poverty and Slim to escape his creditors.

Fortunately, the story doesn't throw them into bed, and their relationship is allowed to develop nuance and texture. Their race plays a large role in both their business and personal relationship, and is used to confound the reader's expectations when Slim's backstory is finally explained. Similarly, the story avoids easy morality, as it asks the reader to sympathize, and ultimately, root for, two people who unleash a fair amount of coldblooded carnage throughout the book. It's worth noting that the artists do an excellent job with both the action sequences and everything else.
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