Wednesday, January 3, 2018

THE FADE OUT by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Yet another masterpiece by the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips creative team. It might get a bit old now, all this praise I keep heaping on these guys. Like Criminal and Velvet before it, The Fade Out is an indelible piece of art not just in the comic book world but in crime fiction in general. Many crime writers have tried to recapture the feel of old "seedy-underbelly" Hollywood noir intrigue and this book does it with ease and without feeling forced and disingenuous like many others. Part of the reason is is how they prioritize placing compelling and honest characters in this world instead of focusing on playing up the time period.
I'm so impressed with the amount of detail in the book and how many different story elements are included here in such a relatively short page-count. Brubaker touches on the Red Scare/McCarthyism, Pearl Harbor, the changing studio system, the casting couch, cut-throat publicity, alcoholism, the price of stardom, and even the psychological effects of war, all in just three acts, without it feeling overcrowded or diluted. The creators have a real grasp of this material and it's on full display here. It's an engaging and dramatic classic crime story that feels of-the-time but avoids feeling dated at all. The Fade Out stands up alongside the work of James Ellroy, Dorothy B. Hughes, or  classic Megan Abbott. And damn, this hardcover edition is gorgeous!


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