Sunday, March 17, 2019

21. The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser

A solid hollywood noir Graphic Novel with a particularily well done cover and trade dress makes it seem something more than the story actually is.  This is okay, because the story is quite good.  It's just that it being in a comic format kind of throws you at first (as well as the excessive promotional quotes by other authors, like this is a pretty good book but it's not the equivalent of Scorsese and De Niro, Joe Hill). 

It's just that when you start to have some experience with pulp and noir fiction in print, the story of Fade Out doesn't seem all that special because we have seen a lot of it before.  That being said, Fade Out hits some pretty cool marks.  The story is nicely dark and the protagonist a well-done take on the self-loathing, broken anti-hero.  The set up is cool, too.  Charlie Parish was a gifted writer who had his spirit broken in the war.  He is now a studio screenwriter and secretly continues to work with his blacklisted mentor, because he, Charlie, can no longer actually write.  So his bitter, alchoholic mentor does the actual writing and Charlie does all the day-to-day work, while also trying to ensure that his mentor doesn't show up drunk to awkward for both of them situations.  Charlie is pretty much an alchoholic as well and the story gets going when he wakes up from a blackout on an unknown couch after a big studio party.  He quickly stumbles on to the dead body of the upcoming star of the movie they were working on.  Trouble ensues.

There are lots of great characters ( I appreciated the cast of characters spread at the beginning as well to help the reader keep track) and the corruption of Hollywood near the end of the studio system is well portrayed.  The studio security guy was a particularily nuanced character, who comes off as the strongarm but then later reveals a more intelligent side (though perhaps never moral).  He reminded me a bit of the Comedian from the Watchmen. 

Rock solid noir thriller that is more fun to read because you get pictures.  Recommended.

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