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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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*Starred Review* In the city of Red Wheel Barrow, crime is on the rise—though no case goes unsolved, thanks to the brilliant, restless mind of Detective Gould. The offbeat nature of the lawbreaking (a woman steals chairs, a novelist lifts words for her book, a Peeping Tom sabotages elevators to get his thrills) could easily be played for yuks, but Kindt goes deeper, turning the seemingly random episodes into a rumination on the nature of crime itself. What is crime? Is there crime without victims? This fascinating work recalls Kindt’s earlier efforts (2 Sisters, 2004; Super Spy, 2007), combining his love for the trappings of crime fiction and nostalgia for the conventions of comic-book serials with an offbeat artistry and sly humor. Panels are precisely composed with casual line work and a muted color palette that reveals the texture of the paper. Newspaper clippings, imageless scenes of dialogue, and stylistic riffs (postcards, paperbacks, comics) keep things fresh and surprising. As characters recur (in particular, a real-estate agent named Tess), the story builds to a wonderfully structured and surprisingly affecting climax in which Gould is forced to confront the idea of preventing, rather than merely solving, crime. If David Lynch scripted Dick Tracy it might—might—be as great as this. --Keir Graff
“Matt Kindt is the man.” ―Junot Diaz
“*If David Lynch scripted Dick Tracy it might--might--be as great as this.” ―Booklist, starred review
“This hefty illustrated novel by a highly creative graphic artist and storyteller employs dazzling techniques in its presentation of an urban crime noir mystery.” ―VOYA
“Elegant scribbles from an electric mind.” ―Kirkus Reviews
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Set in the town of Red Wheelbarrow, Red Handed is a story based around a series of strange crimes and the famous detective whose job it is to bring their perpetrators to justice. The compulsive chair thief, the Picasso "art dealer," the failed novelist, and several other strange criminals call this city their home. Each person has a chapter devoted to their crimes, giving the reader a chance to see their wrongdoings from a sympathetic perspective; and Kindt has gone to great lengths to humanize these miscreants.
As always, Kindt's watercolor-based art is intoxicating. Rarely does the artist limit himself to a standard 4, 6, or 9 panel page (there's actually a 24-panel page in here), utilizing each page as if it were a separate work of art. He also experiments with different methods of telling the story. There are separate comics within this comic; a technique he seems to have carried over from his Mind MGMT series. And while these mini-strips can be confusing at first, they truly help to flesh out the overarching story without taking the focus away from the criminals that rightfully receive the book's primary focus. In addition, he also uses newspaper clippings and book covers to add an extra layer of realism to this sometimes outlandish world that he has created. All of this serves to make Red Handed a fully engrossing and layered journey that is nearly impossible to put down.
Kindt's work in the crime genre is well-documented. From the aforementioned Mind MGMT, to Pistolwhip and Revolver, it is the genre with which he seems most comfortable working. Even the sweet, moving 3 Story had elements of espionage in its pages. Red Handed is by far his biggest achievement in the genre, forcing us to question the difference between right and wrong, or art and crime. He has given readers an involving piece of fiction with dozens of moving parts that coalesce perfectly by the book's final act. If there's any complaint to be leveled at Red Handed, it's that the structure of the book is so foreign at first that it can cause undue confusion. But by it's conclusion, what once seemed like structural deficiencies become the book's defining characteristic and the primary motivation to read it all over again. Red Handed is a beautiful book, and the best graphic novel I've read in 2013. I highly recommend it!
Matt Kindt is currently a "hot" creator due to his hit series Mind Management. This is one of his earlier works and in it you can see already some of the same devices: background details, discontinuous flow and non-sequential story telling, wonderful water colored painted illustrations, and most of all deep philosophical notions of right, wrong, justice and punishment.
If you like Mind Management, Super Spy, Revolver, or 2 Sister, you'll enjoy Red Handed.
As part of my quest for broadening my reading horizons, I have become more open to reading graphic novels after an unfortunate period where I looked down on them (I know-I was a horrid snob!) I have since learned my lesson and am always on the lookout for ones that look intriguing such as Red Handed, which looked like a cool mystery, a favorite genre of mine.
I'm glad I read this as I found it absolutely gripping if completely confusing at first. The subtitle "The Fine Art of Strange Crimes" is certainly appropriate. See, it begins as what seems to be a collection of only loosely related short stories before you start to see how everything is tied together. For example, it's all set in the same city with one detective at the core. I really don't want to spoil anything so I'm going to stop there other than to say that it was very interesting and if you put all the pieces together, you still won't want the solution to be what it is.
Unfortunately as is so often the case for me with graphic novels in e-format, sometimes the fonts used were difficult to read. Now I don't think it's just because my eyes but the way it was designed in general. Thus I missed a few sections of text although I think I still got the basic gist. If this is of interest, I highly recommend getting a hard copy for the best reading experience.
I'm not much of an art connoisseur so I don't feel very confident commenting on it. I thought the drawings were very realistic and grounded, fitting with the story well and never detracting. As shown on the cover, the colors are fairly muted (no neon here!)
This was a good fast (adult because of a few of the drawings) read that managed to pack a considerable punch at the end despite its brevity. If you like mysteries, I think you'd enjoy this.
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you cant go wrong with this one!!Read more