Thursday, July 21, 2011

Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery, by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith


(pb; 2004: graphic novel, which "collects the five-issues series, Criminal Macabre - A Cal McDonald Mystery, as well as a short story from Drawing Your Nightmares, published by Dark Horse Comics." Introduction by Rob Zombie)

From the back cover:

"Recently relocated to Los Angeles, hard-living investigator of the weird Cal McDonald finds himself in police custody, implicated in a case that's beyond bizarre - even by Cal's standards.

"Cal has seen it all, done it all.. . shot, stabbed, killed, maimed, drank, snorted and smoked it all. Yet nothing he could injure or ingest could prepare this occult private dick for the unimaginable weirdness that confronts him when he's called to investigate a local vampire sighting, and finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a monster summit. Never in the history of the weird have monsters willingly joined forces before, which signals to Cal that something big and nasty is brewing under the sunny skies of Los Angeles. Add a seemingly random rash of murders and institutional break-ins to this mad monster mash, and you've got one of the ballsiest horror stories you'll ever lay eyes on. Lock and load - it's time to see what's up with all this Criminal Macabre, the latest graphic-novel adventure from the creative team that brought you the break-out hit comic of 2002, 30 Days of Night.

Review:

Inventive, noir- and horror-veracious work that playfully flips the script on those genres while paying homage to them.

I love the writing, the pacing, plotting, occasional plot wrinkles and the strong, unintentionally quirky characters (e.g., Mo'lock, a friendly ghoul); the artwork is servicable (aside from the wow-worthy bright red/orange/splash-page-ish action scenes) - I'm not a fan of Templesmith's artwork, though it suits the story (up to a point) and isn't entirely off-putting.

Worth owning, this.

Followed by Last Train to Deadsville: A Cal McDonald Mystery.

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