Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Fade-Out, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and DBB meets Repairman Jack

1) The Fade-Out, Act One, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Terrific, atmospheric, shadow-drenched art, and a story that's noir at its helpless, claustrophobic, desperate, Goodis-like best. Like Scalped, its only rival as the best noir comic I've read. The Fade-Out is peppered with tributes to the genre its creators love so well. A movie-studio mogul has the same last name as The Maltese Falcon's Floyd Thursby, and if The Fade-Out's perky, bespectacled studio publicity girl, Dottie Quinn, is not a tribute to Dorothy Malone's bookstore owner in The Big Sleep, I deserve to spend the rest of my life scraping black paint off bogus falcons.

2) The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong. This massive Chinese classic is both a swashbuckling adventure story and a handy introduction to the tumultuous Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history that attended the decline of the Han dynasty (Think of it as Western Europe from the break-up of the Roman Empire to the emergence of national states.)  It's also a fascinating lesson in the mercurial nature of political alliances, and thus it may make one contemplate the messy nature of state-formation. No wonder it has been a classic for 500 years or more.

F. Paul Wilson
3) Quick Fixes: Tales of Repairman Jack, by F. Paul Wilson. This collection of short stories is my first experience with Wilson's urban fixer Repairman Jack.  Wilson's introduction goes out of its way to say Jack "is not a vigilante, not a do-gooder. He's not out to right wrongs. Nor is he out to change the world or fight crime."  So what is a reader to think when, within the first two stories, Jack defends a small businessman against a manipulative drug dealer, beats the crap out of a gangster, and returns a woman's engagement ring that a thug had taken from her? ("She clutched the tiny ring against her with both hands and began to cry.")

Jack is, in those stories at least, manifestly everything that Wilson insists he is not, except that he takes payment for his work.  If Batman is like a gentleman athlete from the amateur-era Olympics, Repairman Jack is a modern-day, professional Olympian. But his goals are exactly the same as Batman's. (His methods can be harsher, reminiscent of Andrew Vachss' Burke. And Vachss, in fact, has said nice things about Repairman Jack.)

4) Oh, and before I forget, Dietrich Kalteis' Off the Cuff blog is back with a discussion among three authors talking about how they deal with rejection. He illustrates this discussion with one of my nourish shots (above/left). I have no idea if the unknown cyclist was an author whose manuscript had just been rejected.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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