The graphic novel, it turns out, is a form especially well-suited to the noir genre. Maybe this isn’t surprising––comics have always run the gamut of moods from goofy to autobiographical to just plain smutty. But it still gives a shiver of pleasure to stumble upon a graphic novel that captures the hardboiled tone of classic noir as perfectly as West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi’s adaptation of a 1976 crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette.
The book is drawn in scratchy old-school high style, and the central story concerns a shiftless Parisian executive who finds himself pursued by a pair of assassins for something he may or may not have done. The plot includes bursts of bruality, dark realizations, alluring women and grizzled observations from its antihero––all the best conventions of noir, in other words, preserved and reborn in a fresh new medium. File it next to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.