Mr. Murder is Dead by Victor Quinaz & Brent Schoonover

Mr. Murder is Dead
by Victor Quinaz & Brent Schoonover
Archaia, 2011

A loving (if slightly seedy) parody of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, with aspects of Bob Kane’s Batman, Falk’s The Phantom and Eisner’s The Spirit, complete with fake public service ads, strips sponsored by junk food companies, and no less than three distinctive styles of art mimicking comic conventions of the ’30s, ’50s and ’70s. A lot of work, in other words.

Mr. Murder, the former nemesis of retired lantern-jawed detective Gould Kane (formerly known as “The Spook”) has been shot, and Kane is the chief suspect. Despite problems with age and his cancelled pension, Kane rouses himself to investigate the murder and uncovers more about his colourful past than he expected.

Flashbacks are crudely printed off-register on cheap paper stock with stiffly-drawn characters, while the contemporary characters stumble, wrinkled and haggard, through an unsympathetic modern world. The fake history of the strip extends to manufacturing a rogues’ gallery (with villains such as The French Tickler and The Fez) and advertising a decoder ring you can send off for… except the coupon expires in 1963.

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