If you've not come across Blacksad before, created by Spanish authors Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (illustrator), it is an anthropomorphic noir series, set in 1950s America, centering around eponymous trench-coated private investigator, John Blacksad, a lithe, witty and cynical cat. Wildly popular France since the release of the first book in 2000, it's equally loved around the world, having been translated in 23 languages, with Dark Horse doing the honors for English reading audiences. This fifth and latest volume, Amarillo, was published in its original French in November last year, with October seeing the release of the English language edition. It's a few rungs above, thanks to Canales' writing: mixing up the mystery with social issues at the time, but largely due to Juanjo Guarnido's breathtaking watercoloured art and the superb manner in which he amalgamates human and animal characteristics.
When discussing the oeuvre of David Lapham, the comic that comes up again and again is obviously Stray Bullets. As great as Stray Bullets is, though, it tends to overshadow the rest of Lapham's body of work rather unfairly in some cases. Despite the several very good comics that Lapham has produced besides his most famous title – including the incomplete Young Liars, the raucous Juice Squeezers, and of course WWF Battlemania – none can match the near-mythic level of quality and reputation of Stray Bullets, and tend to just get left out of the conversation.
The new trade paperback collection of Murder Me Dead, available July 23 from Image Comics, could help change that trend. A dark, stirring, and emotionally manipulative noir about self-destruction, lies, and guilt, it may be the best “other” Lapham comic in his catalog.
Google “Best Crime Comics of All Time” and you’ll find a lot of lists, including a couple from ComicsAlliance, filled with many of the usual suspects: Criminal, Sin City, Torso, Scalped, and Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations appear several times, alongside the archetypal series that defined the genre like Crime Does Not Pay, Dick Tracy (before Chester Gould started sending Tracy off to adventures on the Moon), and Crime SuspenStories. These are all undisputed classics in the genre that should be read by everyone, but notably, criminally absent (sorry, couldn’t help it) from every one of the lists that I came across was David Lapham’s Stray Bullets.
Every. Single. One.
Now that the title is returning, with new stories from Image Comics after nearly a decade-long absence, we may be able to rectify these egregious errors. Stray Bullets is the best crime comic of all time. And I will injury-to-the-eye-motif anybody who says different.
There was almost no way I wasn't going to enjoy Lost Cat. The latest Fantagraphics book from Norwegian cartoonist Jason, it was billed as a crime noir tale with a nod to Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. Essentially, this was one of my favorite cartoonists telling a story in one of my favorite genres. So while my enjoying it seemed almost assured, it ended up being more than I expected. A commentary on longing and isolation with a twist that should seem out of place yet somehow works perfectly, Lost Cat isn't just my favorite comic of 2013 so far, but it's now my favorite work by one of the greatest cartoonist working in comics today.
Lost's most enduring contribution to pop culture might be instilling in audiences a deep mistrust of long-format mystery stories. Tropical polar bears and secret society training videos are glorious until it becomes clear that the promised dots simply won't connect...
On sale this week is the first issue of a curious new Marvel Comics miniseries that's so elusive and mysterious that it very nearly escaped our notice. Appropriately, it's called Mystery Men, and it reveals the heretofore unknown history of the Marvel Universe as it was in the 1930s...
With last week's release of L.A. Noire -- the latest blockbuster video game from Grand Theft Auto creators Rockstar Games -- there's been a sudden spike in interest in hard-boiled crime stories. Stand-up tough-guys dealing with corruption and vice, faithless lovers plotting murderous betrayals, and twisted secrets dragged into the light? Who wouldn't want to see more of that stuff?
And fortunately, those are all things that comics do very well. They may have been eclipsed by super-heroes, but comics and crime have gone together ever since EC comics put two staples into their books. Even the first adult-oriented graphic novel -- Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller and Matt Baker's It Rhymes With Lust -- was a noir-inspired crime story. So if you've been spending a little time tooling around Los Angeles in 1947 with detective Cole Phelps and found yourself wanting for more, ComicsAlliance has you covered. Today, we've picked out a few of Our All-Time Favorite Noir Comics!