Saturday, December 05, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Dramatis Personae.

Yesterday we mentioned the evolving "Cast of Characters" page that introduced each chapter in The Fade Out and featured six to nine black-and-white portraits of major characters:  we speculate that the story's mysterious killer appears early and prominently in this list.

As we work our way from our broad overview of this limited series to a closer look at its plot and each of its central characters, we think it might be worthwhile to analyze and summarize this list of players in this drama.

We've counted how many times each character is featured on the list, and we've also noted when each character first appears on the list.  We're including these numbers in parentheses below, and we sorted the characters according to these numbers.  The more often a character is featured -- and in the case of ties, the earlier they're introduced -- the higher they appear in this summary.

And in this summary, we're briefly showing how the description for each character changes as the story has unfolded.

Cast of Characters, as of issue #11

Charlie Parish (10 appearances since issue #1): Screenwriter, part-time reprobate; stumbled into a murder and cover-up; blocked writer fronting for a blacklisted friend; in over his head, hiding dark secrets, and on a mission -- he's only absent from issue #3

Gil Mason (9 since #1): One-time writer, full-time drunk; blacklisted; Charlie's best friend, who knows Charlie's secret; is on a mission and headed for trouble; riding co-pilot on Charlie's mission

Dottie Quinn (9 since #1): Publicity girl; PR for Victory Street Pictures

Valeria Sommers (7 since #1): Up-and-coming starlet; dead actress Maya Silver is replacing; murdered

Maya Silver (7 since #3): Actress waiting for her big break, then making her big debut; Valeria's replacement in reshoots; up-and-coming movie starlet in an secret affair with Charlie

Earl Rath (6 since #1): Movie star, womanizer; dashing leading man; always a charmer; without a worry in the world; Hollywood heartthrob and he knows it

Phil Brodsky (6 since #1): Studio's head of security

Mr. Victor Thursby (5 since #2): Co-founder of Victory Street Pictures

Franz Schmitt (4 since #2): German expatriate director

Melba Mason (3 since #2): Gil's amazing wife, not built for the long-suffering routine; has no idea what Gil and Charlie are up to

Tyler Graves (3 since #4): Hollywood heartthrob in need of more publicity, secretly gay

Jack "Flapjack" Jones (2 since #2): One-time child star from the "Krazy Kids" series

Armando Lopez (2 since #3): Big band trumpet player

Al Kamp (2 since #5): Co-founder of Victory Street Pictures

Drake Miller (2 since #10): A big question mark; FBI front man

Tom Greavey (1 since #3): Middle-aged Talent Agent

Stevie Turner (1 since #4): Photographer to the stars

Lincoln Kessler (1 since #7): Drunken writer with an attitude

Rebecca Franklin (1 since #9): Charlie's ex-wife

From what we've learned, we wouldn't be surprised if Drake Miller is involved in the murder, the cover-up, or both -- but going by the numbers listed here and how late he was introduced, readers would have a reason to feel somewhat cheated if he was the main culprit.  If it's important that the killer is prominent from the beginning, then Dottie the PR girl(!) is actually a much more likely suspect.

And, again, we don't imagine that the killer was entirely omitted from this introductory page, so this should rule out all the celebrity cameos.

Beyond that, we're reminded of Ed Brubaker's promise that the story would be a sprawling drama with a very large cast.  The series took its time with minor characters like Tyler Graves and Armando Lopez, and it let us see the corruption in the movie industry and the resulting tragedies in their lives, even as their own stories appear to be incidental to the murder of Valeria Sommers.

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