Sunday, December 06, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Setting the Scene in Twelve Striking Covers.

We remain impressed with Sean Phillips' cover art where, with each new story, he presents variations on a theme and a change in his approach to art design.  As we did with the monthly and collected covers for Fatale and the new editions of Criminal, we've collected the artwork for the standard issues into a single collage.

Readers can download a much larger, 6.61-MB version of this image on Google Drive.

Continuing our previous discussion of possible suspects, we see that each of the eight most prominent characters appear on at least one cover.  That accounts for eight of the standard covers, but what about the other four?

Charlie and Maya appeared separately toward the beginning of the series, and they appear together on the cover for issue #7, locked in an embrace.  Flapjack Jones appears on the cover for issue #6, playing the trumpet; he's one of two big-band musicians featured in the book, though his musical ability isn't included in his character description.

Issue #2 features the bandaged man from the film that Victory Pictures is producing -- "Shadow of the Valley" -- and Earl Rath plays the character, but in most of the scenes where the character is "made-up like the Invisible Man," the part is played by an actor named Morty.  In that issue, we learn that Charlie daydreams about disappearing under the disguise, and he lives out that fantasy -- poorly -- in issue #8.

And, of course, The Fade Out #1 is adorned with an image of a vintage manual typewriter.  We strongly doubt that an inanimate object is the mastermind behind the story's central mystery.

Beyond what we can infer about the story's whodunit from who made the cover, we are struck by how much is conveyed with so little visual information.

Here, we see the story's major characters with a handful of props and the story's title on that spill of blood or red ink:  there's no background, no unrealistic coloring, and no text description, and none of that is really needed.

Jazz music, the movies, and the war; guns and fedoras, cigarettes and a bottle of booze; glamour and the threat of violence; romance and a sense of yearning:  these few isolated images effortlessly establish the setting and set the mood.

And while the cover layout isn't as flashy as some other titles, and the content isn't as sensationalistic, The Fade Out stands out on the comic shop's walls.  Even those who don't already know Brubaker and Phillips can tell, here they'll find the kind of story you won't get in any other book.

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