Monday, July 27, 2015

Louise Brooks: Detective by Rick Geary – Graphic Novel Review

One of the few comics I picked up this year at Comic-Con was Rick Geary's latest graphic novel, Louise Brooks: Detective. San Diego cartoonist Geary is probably best known for his nonfiction crime series Treasury of Victorian Murder (graphic novels about Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and others) and Treasury of XXth Century Murder (graphic novels about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Sacco and Vanzetti, and others). This is something of a departure for Geary. Well, sort of.

Set in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1940s, it's a fictional account in which real life dancer/actress Louise Brooks, where she gets involved in a fictional local murder. The story is told from Brooks' point of view. Though fictitious, Louise Brooks did live in Wichita at the time, and much of what happens to Brooks such as opening a dance studio only to have it fail a short time later did actually happen to her at the time.

I bought the book directly from Geary, and he explained that Louise Brooks was one of his favorite actresses. I got the impression that he mostly just wanted to spend time drawing her, and I have to say the results are stunning. At only 80 or so pages, it's a quick but fun read. Similar to Geary's nonfiction crime work, there's an almost documentary quality to it.

Coming in, I knew very little about Louise Brooks, but the introduction is a short biography to help get you oriented. I never felt like I was lost or anything. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and you get a good feel for both what it was like for Brooks at that point in her life, as well as what it was like in Wichita at the tail end of the depression. For me, the latter was a bit of a personal connection for me as my parents are from Wichita and would have be there at about that time.

The murder mystery itself is a clever-little whodunnit with Brooks acting as the amateur sleuth. I would think it would be difficult to balance to biographical elements of the story with the fictitious parts, but it's all done pretty seamlessly. I never felt like it was a biography with a mystery superimposed on it or vice versa.

If you're a fan of Geary's true crime work, a fan of Louise Brooks, or just an old movie buff, I think you'll find  Louise Brooks: Detective highly enjoyable. I'm a bit of all three, so I loved it.

You can pick it up better comic shops or order through Amazon here


As a bonus, I stumbled on this time-lapse video of Rick Geary drawing Brooks. Kinda cool, enjoy.

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