Tag Archives: Richard Stark

Slayground: Too Good, Too Short

Cover of Slayground

Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground

The day before Christmas I received Slayground, the new Parker adaptation from Darwyn Cooke, and, due to family engagements related to the holiday, had to shelve it until late last night. 30 minutes later I was finished, thrilled to the center of my being, yet devastated by the marquee on the final page of the book “PARKER WILL RETURN IN 2015”– And thus I contemplate another year and more of waiting for the next installment…

I hate waiting.

Cooke delivers an exceptional work once again– the art: perfectly retro, the dialogue: stripped down and punchy,  the pace: frenetic. Actually, the speed with which the plot unfolds is almost jarring. More than any of the other adaptations, Slayground had large sections of zero or negligible dialogue; panel upon panel of brutal silence. I issue this criticism with tongue in cheek, because nothing was lost from the telling of the story during these stretches. Cooke appears to have honed this craft  of ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ with each subsequent novel, but the result is a much faster pace, and less average time on each page, than in any of the other three. I truly finished the entire book in one half-hour, and though I loved each minute, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.

Slayground Armored Car Accident

The First Page

Additionally, the plot of Slayground is much more straightforward than any of the other novels. Parker finds himself in the possession of a sack of cash, cornered in an amusement park closed for the winter. Gone to ground with crooked cops and mobsters in the peripheral, he waits for the inevitable violent climax. The story commences mid-heist, and concludes mid-conflict– like a slice of Parker pie (we don’t get the whole thing, only a taste). And then Cooke’s decision to append The 7eventh to the end, felt like a bit like a punchline. The book is an hors d’oeuvre, whetting our appetite for future novels.

(I also noticed that the interior dust jacket of the book was dominated by an advertisement for the upcoming re-release of the Parker hardcover novels, which Darwyn Cooke will be providing cover art and some interior placards for. Perhaps Slayground is simply a clever marketing scheme?)

Slayground isn’t sunk by its brevity, but it’s certainly shorter than the other Parker graphic novels. Let’s be grateful that it retains the same quality we’ve come to expect from Darwyn Cooke.

(pick it up here)


Filed under Noir Comics

Noir Crime Fiction | The Man With The Getaway Face by Richard Stark

Noir Crime Fiction The Man With The Getaway Face by Richard Stark

my copy from Amazon.com

The Man With The Getaway Face is the sequel to Richard Stark’s The Hunter, and is a great piece of noir crime fiction. Richard Stark A.K.A Donald Westlake has a certain measured coldness to his writing that bounces perfectly off his hard-boiled hero, Parker. I think it fitting to place this review between the noir comic renditions of The Hunter and The Outfit because that’s exactly where this novel fits in Mr. Westlake’s chronology. Essentially, the plot follows a fresh-faced Parker as he lines up a new job to get back on his feet. He has had drastic plastic surgery to throw The Outfit off his trail, and now he must find work in order to make ends meet. The only caveat is the job is rotten and he can see the double-cross coming from a mile away. We get to meet a couple of his old associates in crime, Handy and Skimm, and a broad-shouldered femme fatale named Alma. Although he didn’t pick the job, Parker assumes control of the operation because of all the holes he can see in it. With Handy as his only reliable cohort, and Skimm with his head between Alma’s breasts, Parker must rely on every ounce of his cunning to make it work. Noir crime fiction perfection; here’s how it measures up the the noir definition:

1) The Seedy Underworld

The north eastern United States, particularly New Jersey, serve as the back drop for this novel. An abandoned barn used as a hideout, a greasy diner, and bars frequented by good ‘ole boys make their fair share of appearances throughout The Man With The Getaway Face. Think post-war 1940’s.

2) The Anti-Hero

Parker is calculating and inflexible. He is a man of routines, and his way of life makes no allowances for exceptions. This hard-boiled anti-hero follows his own rigid code of conduct to a fault, even when to abandoned his principles would be easier. More importantly, he sees all the angles and won’t take orders from anyone.

Noir Crime Fiction The Man With The Getaway Face Darwyn Cooke

The Darwyn Cooke Noir Comics Rendition via joeshusterawards.com

3) The Femme Fatale

The femme fatale is a thick set waitress who’s sleeping with Skimm, one of Parker’s associates. She serves as “the finger” for the job (the one who saw the opportunity) and from the onset of her appearance the reader can tell she has ulterior motives. Parker and Handy (his other associate), can see it clearly, but Skimm’s mind is clouded by perfume and Alma’s other assets. Makes for great femme fatale drama.

4) Misogyny

The book throws all of its misogyny at Alma, the dame who is rotting Skimm’s senses. The ending sentiment is that women are self-serving liars who always try to control the men around them through sex.

“Let Skimm take over Thursday. I want to show you the doublecross.” -Parker (pg. 77)

Noir Crime Fiction The Man With The Getaway Face Cover

via img.neoseeker.com

5) Redemption

The Man With The Getaway Face takes an unexpected turn late in the story when the surgeon who performed Parker’s plastic surgery is murdered. Parker must then work to exonerate himself or his new face goes public, bringing unwanted attention from the enemies of his past along with it. It’s in this segment of the book that we get to see Parker’s code of honor, and how he avoids killing at all costs; not because its wrong, but because it draws unnecessary attention. All of his actions are utterly selfish. He is the ultimate survivor.

6) Loss of Innocence

None that I can remember.

7) Eroticism

Only one instance: After Parker pulls a job, he always has a ravenously sexual appetite. Now that his wife has died, he has no one to express it with. So he uses some of his new found money to splurge on hookers (sorry about the word choice) in several different cities. He also confesses that the one thing he hates about prostitutes is that you always have to hit them first to get them interested.

He didn’t get his kicks from hurting whores, it was just the only way he knew to get them interested. (pg. 180)

Noir Crime Fiction The Man With The Getaway Face Cover

Old Pulp Cover via noirboiled.blogspot.com

8 ) Blaxploitation

This whole book is white-bread 1940’s America. The lack of racism is racism enough.

9) Smoke

Every scene is held together by the sticky tendrils of cigarette smoke. I seemed to picture Parker in this one like a smoking mean version of Cary Grant.

I love Donald Westlake’s writing style, and Parker is one of the best creations in the noir crime fiction genre to date. I bought my copy from Amazon.com.

by Chad de Lisle


Filed under Noir Crime Fiction