Friday, 26 June 2015

Louise Brooks: Detective by Rick Geary Review

Rick Geary takes a break from his brilliant Treasury of Victorian/20th Century Murders series for a work of fiction starring the real-life Golden Age of Hollywood actress, Louise Brooks. Brooks was more famous for popularising the bob haircut than her acting though she had some movie success in the 1930s. However by 1940, when this comic begins, she’d done some European films and returned to find Hollywood was no longer interested in her.

So Brooks went back to her parents’ home in Wichita, Kansas, while she figured out her next move. Aimless, she opened a dance studio but couldn’t make it work, and then decided to write screenplays instead. Up to now, this is actually the real life story of Louise Brooks – and now the fiction begins. Realising a retired famous (and made up) playwright, Thurgood Ellis, lives nearby, she sets out to get some writing advice from him and becomes embroiled in a case of murder most foul!

Geary’s last fictional sleuth comics, The Adventures of Blanche, were excellent for blending Lovecraftian horror into crime, in tightly constructed stories. Louise Brooks: Detective is a decent book but I wasn’t as enthralled with the story as I usually am with Geary’s work – I tend to read his Treasury books in a single sitting and I finished this one in three.

It takes a while, roughly a third of the book, before the actual murder mystery appears – up until then we’re getting to know our heroine, someone Geary clearly has affection for but isn’t doing anything especially interesting. And while Geary is well versed in relating forgotten crime cases in a fresh and compelling way, the one of his own invention is a little convoluted and not as exciting as the real life ones. I almost would’ve preferred if Geary had just done a bio on Brooks instead (she led an interesting life, at one point becoming a high class courtesan and allegedly had an affair with Greta Garbo)!

It’s a minor point too but I noticed more than a few typos which was sloppy for a 80 page comic and especially from Geary who’s a very experienced cartoonist. The black and white art is quality Geary as usual.

Fans of this cartoonist are going to read it anyway as we wait for the next Treasury instalment, but, unlike those volumes, I wouldn’t say Louise Brooks: Detective is a must-read for crime comics fans. It’s a quirky premise that has its moments but overall it’s a bit weakly realised and forgettable.

Louise Brooks: Detective

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