1.10.2012

My review of LIKE A SNIPER LINING UP HIS SHOT by Jacques Tardi


Remember that scene in True Romance when Christopher Walken (Vincenzo Coccotti) punches Dennis Hopper (Clifford Worley) in the nose and quips something to the effect of, "...and that's as good as it's gonna get, and it ain't ever gonna get that good again."

That is how this graphic novel reads, this ambitious adaptation of the terse French crime novel, The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, is like a swift punch in the face, and it doesn't let up. 

The stark black and white illustration by Jacques Tardi, a master of the graphic novel form, was dead on. The story was violent enough; I had a hard time imagining all those scenes of gore in full color, the inker would have run out of red pens. And yet, then there are also panels of detached calm, depicting a man quietly drinking a beer, and we forget for a moment what happened the page before.

It's the familiar, desperate story of a killer who wants out of the game, and the lengths he'd go to get out.
 
Tardi's illustration, the thin-lined expressions, near unreadable emotions of the ruthless contract killer, Martin Terrier, are chilling. Presented is a professional killer, ruthlessly detached from his actions, yet oddly longing for a long lost girlfriend who he pulls into his downward spiral of violence.

Even the panel-heavy unjacketed hardcover from Fantagraphics is awesome, and a nice preview of the pages within. Not to mention this book's title wins as my favorite book title of 2011.

I'd like to note that I was not given this book as a review copy. I went out and bought it. First I read about it somewhere, then I tried to find it at a comic shop or two (which I won't mention here as both usually helpful shops didn't know what I was talking about). Then I went to order directly from the Fantagraphics website, but I'll be honest their first-time order set-up was a pain, so I cancelled that. Then I finally decided to order from bn.com, and that worked out perfectly (I even wound up ordering two of Manchette's other novels, one as an ebook and a paperback). See, good service will get the additional orders every time.

If you like solid noir crime stories, this graphic novel (and any of Manchette's original prose novels for that matter) are worth picking up. I should also mention that this collection was edited and translated by the always wonderful Kim Thompson.

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