Murder Me Dead

Young Liars is pretty much the best comics around at the moment. While I wait for the final trade to come out, I got a little David Lapham booster fix reading Murder Me Dead, his 'first full-length comic novel' (as the back cover puts it).

While Young Liars adds pop music, fantasy dreamscapes and suicidal tendencies to its noir underpinnings, Murder Me Dead is Lapham doing classic noir. His introduction namechecks crime films from the 30s, 40s and 50s as primary inspiration, and he's brilliantly successful at bringing these old tropes (where less is definitely more) to a modern context. In short: Murder Me Dead is a perfect noir yarn. That said, the book lacks the crazy energy and invention of Young Liars -- where literally anything can happen. Bound by genre conventions, Murder Me Dead remains more subdued, and so less edge-of-your-seat thrilling.

Interesting to note the close similarities between the two works' protagonists. Both get caught up in the machinations of others. Both are relatively straight-laced. Both are completely besotted with out-of-control, dangerous femmes, and get dragged through seven shades of shit as a result. They even look the same.

One wonders whether these hopeless, obsessive, self-deceiving romantics are what primarily attract Lapham to the noir genre...

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