West Coast Blues (book review) by Jacques Tardi (artist), Jean-Patrick Manchette

161010: later addition: looked at this again last night, decided to critique as if verbal rather than visual fiction, but such is mistaken project- for the sequential artwork is effective, generative, in creating a mood, a style, that requires little dialogue, no extra description than visual. Paris everyman who accidentally falls into adventure, there is a wavy, woozy, quality to the line work rather than herge's 'ligne clair', that catches the 'jazzy' soundtrack which follows our protagonist, the 'west coast Blues' of the French title. on second reading, i have more a sense of existential psychology, to a certain degree George's reaction to fatal intent is blunted emotions- but the 'project' of his life clarified: stay alive...


there is some comic, some satirical, aspects that continue from the very short novel- manchette's omniscient voice claiming that all the story is an expression of George's role in production and class, but it is difficult to ascertain whether this Marxist posture is sincere, is a joke, is both. one character is described as a survivor of police riots, political violence, that puts the era some years near the events of '68. one of the killers is really 'into' the adventures of graphic superheroes, such that it will offer him an essential eulogy, there is also the enabling aid of another character, the attack, the unthought certainty that it is ultimately the man behind the killers, who must be confronted...


some of the pleasure of this work is in the deliberate foreshadowing of actions, of 'the day before two men try to kill him', such that there is doubled pleasure, anticipation, action- but also freedom from reading for plot, able to enjoy mood, to be slightly detached and thoughtful about his adventures. there is the ongoing determination of just what music is playing. there is cosmic and comic absurdity. there is the first and final inability to incorporate the adventures in his life, that compels George to later drive at dangerously high speed, with drunken, 'compromised' skills, round and round the beltway of Paris at two thirty or maybe three fifteen in the morning...


first review: this is the graphic version of jean-patrick manchette’s novel, titled in english ‘three to kill’. i knew the plot, the characters, the violence, the voice, all rendered very well in graphic terms by tardi. i like his art. easy read i thought of how the medium is different and what is lost- mostly psychological sense of protagonist- and what is gained- mostly scenes stripped down, speeded up, and less time to dwell on improbabilities...

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