West coast blues

publisher: Fantagraphics
publish date:
language: English
pages: 71: Hard Cover

2010 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Adaptation from Another Work; Best U.S. Edition of International Material


George Gerfaut, aimless young executive and desultory family man, witnesses a murder and finds himself sucked into a spiral of violence involving an exiled war criminal and two hired assassins. Adapting to the exigencies of his new life on the run with shocking ease, Gerfaut abandons his comfortable middle-class life for several months (including a sojourn in the countryside after an attempt to ride the rails turns spectacularly bad) until, joined with a new ally, he finally returns to settle all accounts... with brutal, bloody interest.

Originally released in 2005, West Coast Blues (Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest) is Tardi’s adaptation of a popular 1976 novel by the French crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette. (The novel had been previously adapted to film under the more literal title Trois hommes à abattre, and was released in English by the San Francisco-based publisher City Lights under the English version of the same title, 3 to Kill.)

Tardi’s late-period, looser style infuses Manchette’s dark story with a seething, malevolent energy; he doesn’t shy away from the frequently grisly goings-on, while maintaining (particularly in the old-married-couple-style bickering of the two killers who are tracking Gerfaut) the mordant wit that characterizes his best work. This is the kind of graphic novel that Quentin Tarantino would love, and a double shot of Scotch for any fan of unrelenting, uncompromising crime fiction.

"Tardi brings a rough and gritty reality and an existential strangeness that makes his crime stories different than anyone else’s. I’ll read anything he draws." – Ed Brubaker

"To put it simply, this shit kicks ass." – Howard Chaykin

"The scenario seems straight out of Hitchcock, but the treatment is more in the mode of the 1950s thrillers the French called roman noir. Although the contemporary setting, if not the crime milieu, is slightly unusual for Tardi, who is known mostly for period works, the story is a perfect fit for the artist’s sensibilities. His atmospheric approach — a sophisticated update of the European ligne claire (clear line) style — is ideally suited to depict the hard-boiled goings-on. Recent months have seen an unusually high number of crime comics hitting the bookshelves, but this one’s among the best of the batch." – Gordon Flagg, Booklist

"For unadorned genre material, nothing this year beats West Coast Blues, French wunderkind Jacques Tardi's excellent, unflinching adaptation of a brutal hardboiled crime novel by Jean-Patrick Marchette." – Steven Grant, Comic Book Resources

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