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The Fade Out, Vol. 1 Paperback – February 25, 2015
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The characters are all interesting. There is definitely something shady going on and everyone seems to be involved in some way. Unpacking where each character fits in is quite a bit of fun. This book is more of a setup for things to come than anything else, but it does it so well.
And the art is superb. It captures the essence of the period perfectly. Anyone with a passing interest in noir type stories should check this out.
The graphic novels has the feel of the movie Chinatown or LA Confidential. This is the post war noir Los Angeles, with its corrupt polices and out of control movie studio bosses and actors. This is a time when fortunes were built in Los Angeles and in the movie business. Women and sex was seen by some as a reward for power and money in a stark and raw way that is not true in the twenty first century.
The story also has the feel of the movies of the era. In those movies men often get into fist fights with other men. The idea that slugging someone might be criminal assault is alien. This is men acting like school year boys.
The constant fist fights are the only element of the story that didn't work for me. Fist fights between men are serious and sometimes result in death or serious injury. Except in the movies, where none of that seems to happen. And perhaps that's the point. Reading this graphic novel is like watching a movie made in the 1940s and 1950s.
Another 1940s and 1950s movie element in the plot is that almost everyone smokes. And they smoke everywhere - in cars, inside buildings. Whenever they get nervous or upset they light up.
At one point the narrator of the story mentions that the two main characters are alcoholics who would not be bothered by that diagnosis. They drink hard liqueur constantly and this is a part of the story line, since there are blackouts and actions that only someone who was drunk would undertake.
To a reader in 2016 this noir world of the late 1940s seems like a strange and alien world. But it adds to the movie and noir quality of The Fade Out.
After reading this graphic novel, I'm going to look up some of the other work by the authors.
The series is haunted by two specters, World War II and Valeria Sommers/Jenny Summers. Visually, the first thing that caught my eye was Elizabeth Breitweiser's coloring. She uses all sorts of greens and browns. Don't get me wrong – this is a noir title – but she brings out the light of day in daytime scenes. Fade Out is full of surprises, and a few famous stars from the 1940s make cameos, like Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan, the latter of which is tied with the F.B.I. I don't know if I have enough room for another title to follow, but if I do, it's most likely to be this one. ****3/4
Thanks Brubaker and Phillips!