One of my favorite comics, that’s fairly new with only five issues published so far, is The Fade Out. It’s written by mastermind Ed Brubaker and illustrated beautifully by Sean Phillips. I honestly believe this could be Brubaker’s best story since writing Captain America. And although Phillips’ interiors are, at times, a bit too rough for my liking, his covers look amazing for this series.
The Fade Out is noir at it’s best. The series takes place during the Golden Age of Hollywood (1948), and through the lives of several flawed characters, each with their own storyline, the mystery of a murdered, up-and-coming actress is explored. It’s a who done it, and its been a joy to read. Think: L.A. Confidential and you’d be close to the vibe that this book delivers.
The comic book market is flooded with stories about super-heroes, zombies, and the future. These stories, although entertaining, begin to lose their appeal because they are so prevalent. I like a good sci-fi story (i.e. Chrononauts) just like everyone else, but they seem to be everywhere, and since they are everywhere, the stories that can be told get exhausted rather quickly. How many times can you read about a super-powered being saving the world before becoming numb to the idea?
I found The Fade Out to be the perfect escape from the typical comic book because it’s not like anything else out there. It’s noir without being over-the-top (I’m looking at you Sin City). It’s believable. It’s gritty. It’s smart.
Like was done in the series Fatale, The Fade Out provides an interesting article that concludes each issue. Issue #1 ended with an article about the tragic life of Peg Entwistle, the actress who committed suicide by throwing herself off of the Hollywoodland sign in 1932. I never knew a thing like that happened until I read issue #1 and that’s what makes The Fade Out special – it’s well crafted from start to finish.
Something I don’t talk about too often is how good an issue is colored – it’s a talent that, unfortunately, I take for granted. I’m guilty of jumping all over a colorist when they do make a mistake like color Iron Man green and purple instead of red and yellow. You know a colorist is doing their job when their work complements the art but doesn’t distract from it. Elizabeth Breitweiser (Velvet, Fatale, etc.) is an amazing colorist. After reading an issue of The Fade Out, I find myself looking back through the pages and admiring the art/color.