Scene of the crime

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Space. The final frontier. Or, in the case of magazine writing – the writer’s eternal nemesis. I refer to the awful sinking feeling that pervades one’s gut as you try and cram just one more fact, one more little morsel of information into those few hundred words. Maybe you might nudge it past the limit by a little bit to see if you can get away with it, but ‘word count’ stands as implacably as any gravestone – thou shall not pass!

The latest issue of Comic Heroes (pictured above) is now available from newsstands. It contains (amongst delights such as a piece on how to draw comic books and an interview with Kev O’Neill about the VERY exciting next installment of the League of Extraordinary Gentleman) some pieces by your’s truly.

“A blog post pimping something you’ve written for something?!” I hear you cry! Yes, bizarre and unlikely as that sounds…

There’s my feature interview with writer Warren Ellis about the future of digital comics, a Q&A with Ultimates artist and nice guy Bryan Hitch about his new ‘how to’ book and Andy Diggle talks about his excellent upcoming Vertigo Crime graphic novel Ratcatcher. Alongside the latter is a whole feature by moi about crime comics, in which I recommend a whole series of titles for the uninitiated.

The only problem was space.

There’s only so many titles you can recommend when you’ve only got a few hundred words in which to do it. Do you play it safe and recommend the ‘classic’ titles or do you try and show off and go for the obscure but with the risk that your taste won’t necessarily translate. Crime comics are such a wide genre that it’s difficult to know where the edges are – everything from capers to murderers, thieves to vigilantes are technically ‘crime comics’, so picking even a couple of dozen was a hell of a task.

Anyway, read the damn magazine and make your own mind up. But ONE recommendation that I couldn’t squeeze in, no matter how much I played around with the word count was the work of Rick Geary.

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I love these books. Each one picks a particular historical crime – in his latest it’s the elusive Axe-man of New Orleans from the turn of the last century – and recreates it in exacting detail. The amount of research that goes into each grisly case is breathtaking, and Geary is one of those illustrators who seems to revel in the menacing mudanity of life – how simple everyday objects can, in a murder case, assume deadly importance. Rendered in a meticulous – almost obsessive – Ligne clair style, Geary’s books are just fantastic reads. The stories may be true, but his dispassionate recalling of them has an almost Holmesian quality to it. Despite their omission from my piece in Comic Heroes, they’re some of the best crime books you can pick up. So do.

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