Author: Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips (Illustrations), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Colourist)
Genre: Graphic novel, crime, mystery
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: 10 March 2015
Series: The Fade Out #1
Hollywood - 1948. A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued by nightmare from the war. An up-and-coming starlet's suspicious death. And a mogul and his security chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the studio system comes crashing down.
A noir-style story about a noir film, set during the post-World War Two era in Los Angeles, where studios are falling and half of Hollywood has been blacklisted. Filled with gritty illustrations, crime, mystery and suspense, this is a fantastic start to the series.
Following screenwriter Charlie Parish, who is hiding many secrets, the story follows his job continually rewriting a movie that is actually crap and probably won't be finished before the studio crashes due to the Red Scare of McCarthyism. But when their starlet, Valeria Sommers is found dead, covered up as suicide, those on the inside begin to scramble to keep their secrets, because someone in Hollywood, and someone involved with this movie is behind her death. But with so many secrets floating around, and many people hiding from McCarthy's attack, the shady scenes of Hollywood become a dangerous place to be, especially when Charlie knows that Valeria didn't commit suicide, and that a plot is in motion to keep this dark secret under wraps.
I'm not big on noir-style stories, having not sought them out to read or watch, but I found this story really intriguing and engrossing. The action kicks off right away, with Charlie discovering the body of Valeria on 8 pages in, and I certainly wasn't expecting to be faced with death and a murder mystery right from the get go. As I got further into the story, and realised this was set during the Hollywood Blacklist era, I was reminded of the movie Guilty By Suspicion, starring Robert de Niro (a fabulous movie to check out, especially after reading this).
I really enjoyed the cast of characters overview at the beginning, which helped me remember and recognise the characters, and allow be to check back to remind myself of what the character did. I felt this was a great addition to the story, and really made me feel like I was watching a movie.
The art style was perfect for the story. It was dark and gritty, and very noir-style and 40s. The colour pallette really helped me immerse myself into this seedy Hollywood world full of murder, mystery, sex and secrets.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment, a lot more than I thought I would, especially being a genre I don't really read. I highly recommend this to anyone who love graphic novels, a bit of mystery, and the shady side of Hollywood.
Note, this graphic novel does contain some graphic scenes and may be a trigger for suicide and abuse.