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West Coast Blues Hardcover – October 20, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Maybe it's because blood and brain matter look somewhat more disturbing in the chunky, primitive black and white favored by famed French cartoonist Tardi, but there's something particularly creepy about his adaptation of the late Manchette's crime novel that wouldn't have been well served by color. The protagonist, George Gerfaut, is a dead-souled Parisian businessman who's just about as irritated by his work as he is by his family. There's little he seems to like but for booze, cigarettes and West Coast–style jazz. His foul demeanor seems to serve him in good stead, though, when he becomes an accidental witness to a murder and has to fend off a determined assault by a pair of hit men who happen to be lovers. Not only does his mood leave him with fewer compunctions about resorting to violence but it also ensures that when a bloody shootout at a gas station leaves him wounded, he's not too broken up about not seeing his wife and children for a while. Manchette's plot is pure pulp, with a driving engine for a plot and a Lee Marvin–like inclination toward swift and unreflective action. Tardi's art delivers the action with admirable punch and attitude to spare. (Oct.)
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“Maybe it’s because blood and brain matter look somewhat more disturbing in the chunky, primitive black and white favored by famed French cartoonist Tardi, but there’s something particularly creepy about his adaptation of the late Manchette’s crime novel West Coast Blues that wouldn’t have been well served by color. ... Manchette’s plot is pure pulp, with a driving engine for a plot and a Lee Marvin-like inclination toward swift and unreflective action. Tardi’s art delivers the action with admirable punch and attitude to spare.” (Publishers Weekly)
“West Coast Blues shows a terrific sense of pace, place, and casual violence, all related with a firm grip on a beautifully spontaneous style that reeks of utterly justified self-confidence. To put it simply, this shit kicks ass.” (Howard Chaykin, comic book artist and writer)
“Recent months have seen an unusually high number of crime comics hitting the bookshelves, but this one’s among the best of the batch.” (Gordon Flagg - Booklist)
“The graphic novel, it turns out, is a form especially well-suited to the noir genre. Maybe this isn’t surprising―comics have always run the gamut of moods from goofy to autobiographical to just plain smutty. But it still gives a shiver of pleasure to stumble upon a graphic novel that captures the hardboiled tone of classic noir as perfectly as West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi’s adaptation of a 1976 crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette. ... The plot includes bursts of brutality, dark realizations, alluring women and grizzled observations from its antihero―all the best conventions of noir, in other words, preserved and reborn in a fresh new medium. File it next to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.” (Molly Young - We Love You So)
“A savage noir thriller reuniting a master crime novelist and a superlative French cartoonist―the beginning of an ambitious publishing project introducing one of Europe’s most beloved cartoonists to American audiences.” (Graphic Novel Reporter)
“A well-crafted piece of genre entertainment. I dug it.” (Sandy Bilus - I Love Rob Liefeld)
“Tardi is one of the biggest literary stars of French comics…taking the ‘clear line’ style into a moody expressionist direction.” (Heidi MacDonald - Publishers Weekly)
“[G]ets under your skin and remains impossible to resist from start to finish... Darkly amusing and undeniably entertaining, West Coast Blues keeps the mystery and interest alive by carefully doling out pieces of the story and introducing intriguing characters with loads of personality... Tardi does an excellent job of adapting what must be a massively entertaining book into a graphic novel form for all who seek a slightly different but no less thrilling mystery/adventure story to enjoy.” (Avril Brown - Comics Waiting Room)
“Perhaps what makes West Coast Blues so captivating is how well it highlights the similarities between film and comics, while simultaneously showcasing its own unique ability as a graphic novel to capture the noir aesthetic through word and image. ... Not unlike many noir films, West Coast Blues is replete with car chases, hit-men, drinking, guns, and the occasional salacious scene. All of this is set in Tardi’s straightforward drawing style which is a good fit for the almost matter-of-fact, unsentimental manner in which violence, sex, and life in general are met with during the course of the book.” (Sara Cole - PopMatters)
“West Coast Blues is just the right mixture of action, suspense, and surprise to keep just about any reader’s attention. ... It’s hard to ignore the strength of Tardi’s art in making West Coast Blues such a strong graphic novel. ... West Coast Blues is a sharp, beautiful book. ... For people looking for a noir thriller, you’ve come to the right place.” (Greg McElhatton - Read About Comics)
“West Coast Blues is a brilliant story, and Manchette was a phenomenal writer of the modern world, putting others to shame at times. Just that simple, really. This is a book that can’t be reduced to familiar genre markers.” (Brian Lindenmuth - BSCreview)
“I opened this comic, got sucked in and blew through it in one sitting. Then I went back a few weeks later… and re-read it. I found that I liked it even better the second time around... Fans of great artwork and crime stories should give this book a shot.” (Chad Derdowski - Mania)
“It’s the first quotidian crime story that I’ve ever read, and Tardi’s commitment to the depiction of the everyday and the way nightmares crashed into daily life are what made this book work so well.” (Rob Clough - The Comics Journal)
“Plenty of crime stories revolve around the bizarre preoccupations of [their] characters and just as many are centered around the plight of the common man thrust into extraordinary circumstances. But Tardi really brings it home, offering a messed up story about messed up people who do some truly messed up things.” (Paul Montgomery - iFanboy)
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Top Customer Reviews
Tardi follows the novel faithfully and his illustrations are detailed, yet loose, giving the characters and their surroundings a lived-in feel. The style accentuates the (darkly) humorous situations, but can easily slip into sudden and brutal bursts of violence. The book also works well for multiple readings, as the apparent simplicity of the style allows you to rush through it the first time around to simply enjoy the story, but when you read it again, there are subtleties and details to be found that only enhance the experience.
One of the best crime comics around, drawn by a modern legend, based on a brilliant novel. If you liked Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of Donald Westlake's Parker: The Hunter, or have any interest in hardboiled fiction... you can't go wrong with this book.
As in the novel, the plot is straight out of noir. A man who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time finds himself thrown into danger, with killers on his trail at every turn. Tardi cuts to the core of Manchette's work, devoting most to the development of anti-hero George Gerfaut and to the action. The two killers are built up just enough to get a good feel for them, but not much else, as it should be in a book of this nature.
Truth be told, I am not that big of a fan of Tardi's actual artwork. But the story was exciting and moved very fast. Read in one sitting on my balcony with a gin and tonic, it was certainly worth the small amount of time I put into it.