Monday, November 27, 2006


Raymond Chandler was a huge star in the world of noir. His books and screenplays rose above a sea of pulp and continue to attract readers today. "Playback" was a screenplay he worked on for years, tweaking and re-tooling it several times. Partly due to film studio politics, and largely due to Chandler’s curmudgeonly behavior, “Playback” never made its way to the silver screen. Instead, it sat moldering in a studio vault until a few years ago, when Ted Benoit and Francois Ayroles turned it into this graphic novel.

"Playback" was not Chandler’s best, but it’s still recognizable as his work. The artists have done an interesting thing here in producing graphic work that closely resembles that of Chandler’s era. It makes heavy use of bold lines and shies away from half-tones. The result is a fun and witty read from a master of the genre to which the graphic novel owes so much. Without noir, there’s a good chance the comic book wouldn’t have caught on, and the later graphic novels wouldn’t have come about at all. The influence of noir can often be seen in the style of a huge portion of graphic novels as well, in the form of witty, fast-paced dialogue, questionable heroes, and general grittiness.

Sure, there are better graphic novels than "Playback," but few are so grounded in the format’s roots. This is also a book that might find an audience in those who don’t normally read graphic novels.


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