Nothing like a story about old Hollywood. The Fade Out takes you on set, shows you what happens behind the scenes. Elevator pitch: a screenwriter tries to solve a murder. Let’s see if this picture’s got legs. The Fade Out, Volume one.
The Fade Out Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are back doing another noir picture story, except this time they’re following one screenwriter, Charlie Parish. It is the fall of 1948, and see, Charlie has got himself a problem. He drank too much, blacked out, and came to the next day beside the corpse of the star of the flick he wrote, one Valeria Sommers. Charlie can’t go to the police, because he honestly doesn’t know if he killed Valeria or not. We follow ol’ Charlie as he starts to piece things together, via some good old fashioned detective work.
In The Fade Out, Brubaker has crafted a comic with a sympathetic character, that of Charlie Parish. At the same time, Parish isn’t without his faults, or even the reader’s suspicion.
Sean Phillips’ art is awesome, as it usually is. He does wonderful facial expressions, and has a knack for conveying action. He seems to have a talent for conveying things in almost a montage sort of a way. It’s gritty, but human, ya know?
The colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser are excellent. A wonderful use of shadow, and the decision to have flashbacks in black and white, save for the character in color in the front of the panel was inspired. Likewise, when Charlie is trying to remember past events, there is what appears like a fog, or layer of smoke, distorting the images behind him, those which he is remembering. And hell, the regular colors she uses for day and night are simply beautiful.
Is It Good?
With great characterization, excellent pacing, a great mystery, and brilliant art and color, the first volume of The Fade Out is a real concession stand treat. But, much like movie theater snacks, what you digest might make you feel a little sick. Behind the scenes in Hollywood it’s ugly, and sometimes people lose their lives falling off that big old glitzy ladder they’re trying to climb, up to the top of the marquee.
The Fade Out is the very essence of noir fiction. If you aren’t into bleak stories of murdered starlets, and alcoholics getting worse by the day, then the book might not be for you. It’s a compelling read; however, if you aren’t into stories of Old Hollywood, you might not like it, either. That just stands to reason.
Do yourself a favor and pick up The Fade Out Vol. 1 if you love stories of Old Hollywood behind closed doors, or if you’re just in the mood for a cool mystery. It’s one of the coolest series to come out in a while. It’s grounded and raw, and slinks like an alley cat, until it claws for your face with one massive, mangy paw.