Playback: A Graphic Novel

Raymond Chandler, Author, Franois Ayroles, Illustrator, Ted Benoit, Adapted by , adapted by Ted Benoit and François Ayroles. Arcade Publishing $19.95 (98p) ISBN 978-1-55970-796-1

Chandler's 1948 screenplay was presumed lost until its rediscovery in Universal Studios' archives in the 1980s, although the author had adapted it into a Philip Marlowe novel in the meantime. More recently, a French publisher adapted it into a graphic novel that is now being presented in English for the first time. While the story has down the requisite cynicism, acerbic humor and casual violence of film noir, it lacks the compelling plots and timeless characters of the author's classic scripts. A whodunit centering on Betty Mayfield, a beautiful, doomed woman on the run from a troubled past, Playback starts promisingly enough with tough, brisk dialogue and the unusual Vancouver setting. Yet by the third act the plot is bogged down by its own dejected heroine, as Betty's permanent air of defeat proves more tiring than tragic. Despite Philippe Garnier's assertion in his introduction that the script was passed over due to the vicissitudes of the studio system, it's possible that an unrelenting gloom was the real culprit. Ayroles's art employs a stiff, angular woodblocklike style that does little to capture the dark eddies of Chandler's tale. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/29/2006
Release date: 07/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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