Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of "Mr Murder Is Dead" - A Beautiful Homage to the Classical Comics

"Mr Murder Is Dead", the retro-noir fashioned detective graphic novel, has been receiving rave reviews since its launch at this year's SDCC.

And I just had to get one of our very own SArmy moderator and member, Claudia to give a review of the book written and drawn in a style that is not so common these days.

Here's Claudia's review:

"Mr Murder Is Dead", by Archaia Entertainment and Before the Door Pictures, is a graphic novel that should not be missed. As the first comic written and created by Victor Quinaz, "Mr Murder Is Dead" follows Detective Gould Kane, a.k.a. The Spook, in his retirement after the death of his arch nemesis, Mr. Murder. The story flashes back and forth between present day action and the events of the past in the 1930s and 1950s during The Spook’s heyday.

With these flashes, the art style changes to that of the comic strips of the specific time periods. Brent Schoonover, Stacie Ponder, and Mark Englert really bring this point home and the book is absolutely beautiful because of that.  Brent Schoonover’s hard work at capturing the styles of the eras is evident through each period; the 30s has that slightly unfinished and experimental look, the 50s is strong and classic, and the contemporary period is bold.  With each period, the visual emotions of the characters become more defined which makes each step towards the contemporary style more complete.

Also, the coloring by Mark Englert really solidifies each specific style used by Schoonover.  The 30s and 50s pages are colored in a way that resembles the paper stocks of the day and the ageing that would take place over all this time. I can practically feel the rough texture of the paper in my mind. Then the actual coloring of the panels has that classic bleed over past the borders of the characters, backgrounds, and the panels themselves that always comes to my mind first when I think of older comics. 

Finally, the contemporary period’s coloring is sharp and well-defined. It is also worth to mention the work of letterer, Deron Bennett, who changed his style, as well, for each period.

The story itself holds many surprises, so I’m going to hold off on saying anything specific about the plot because I do not want to give anything away.  I will say; however, that I often had to turn back a few pages once something was revealed. I would look at the small clues again that I glossed over through my initial reading and that made the experience all the more fun and engaging. The ending was a bit of a surprise at first, but upon more readings, it was evident that this was the direction that the book was going in.

Overall, the book is simply beautiful – the story is so completely engaging and the art is very dynamic and a real honor to the classic comics of the Golden Age.  If you like Noir, this book is a must-have for your collection. It echoes Dick Tracy, Batman, and even another book by Archaia, "Tumor".

I loved the book and I definitely recommend it highly – I give it a 9/10.


Thank you, Claudia (@Selestina118) for the review!

Before "Mr Murder Is Dead" and preview pages were teased on the internet, I had already aimed to get myself an issue because the era and subject matter on investigations and murder have always been one of my pet reading subjects. But I did not want to have the graphic novel merely shipped to me because I have already planned to be at NYCC this October.

It is my intention to get and feel the book firsthand at Archaia's booth and most of all, to hopefully meet Victor Quinaz and Brent Schoonover (and their creative biceps) in person.

I have now read so many wonderfully positive reviews of "Mr Murder Is Dead" since its official launch that it's making me even more impatient for my NYC trip!

And to add to my growing excitement, here's a very colourful and appropriately suspenseful animated trailer by @keithahurley for the book! Check it out!

If you have already read "Mr Murder Is Dead" and loved it -- help spread the word and get your friends to pick up the book. Also, feel free to add to the buzz by posting your thoughts and comments below!


Get to know the creators of "Mr Murder Is Dead" here:
- Interview with creator/ writer/ film-maker, Victor Quinaz!
- Interview with artist, Brent Schoonover!

And more about the graphic novel can be found at the Official Mr Murder Is Dead website!


  1. This was a 'can't put it any better' review that hit all the 'nails on the head' - I couldn't put it down, read it more than once, enjoyed the concept, execution, art - a beautiful book in all ways - + having zachary, victor, corey and esp. brent sign it especially to me put me 'over the moon' ... thanks, 'sel' for your awesome review: 'shein' =)

  2. I can't wait to get my hands on it at NYCC!

  3. My copy finally arrived and I devoured it early this morning. I liked it more than I thought I would. An early release of one of the '30's panels left me expecting the worse. Now I realize it was a preliminary draft and only one of several styles, ultimately used well for effect.
    I was avidly into comics in my youth, but Lucid sent me scurrying to update my relationship. I got introduced to Alan Moore - gasp! - & realized they have come a long long way in the last [*hrumph*] years. I could appreciate Mr.Murder's way of switching time frames and the "in medias res" strategy. Nicely done, Victor & Brent et al!! I look forward to re-reading this to pick out the fine points.