GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Fade Out: Act One

Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser (illus.). Image. 2015. 120p. ISBN 9781632151711. pap. $9.99. Rated: M. CRIME/MYS
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OrangeReviewStarEisner Award winners Brubaker and Phillips have teamed up again (Criminal; Fatale) on a new series. Set in Hollywood in 1948, the story revolves around an alcoholic screenwriter named Charlie who wakes up after a party to find the leading lady in his current film strangled to death. Soon afterward, though, someone has made her murder look like a suicide. Charlie's mentor Gil is a blacklisted Communist sympathizer who is covertly helping Charlie through his writing block, which has lasted since his return from fighting in World War II. The studio mogul and the security head are doing their best to keep the current studio system alive by any means necessary, and they are quick to replace the dead star. The mostly color illustrations display the turmoil of Charlie's sad life. The emotions drawn onto the characters' faces pull readers into the story as much as the writing.
VERDICT A fun, fast read that is fully engaging. The multiple story lines and deeply flawed characters will keep the reader invested. Some of the content is for a mature audience, but this should not deter a worthy library purchase. For fans of Brubaker and Phillips, film noir, and Golden Age Hollywood stories.

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