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West Coast Blues
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
Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot
2012 Eisner Award Nominee: Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Martin Terrier, ice-cold mercenary-turned-contract-killer, has his future all mapped out: He has just executed
what he intends to be his final job and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life, which involves discreet
retirement accompanied by a long-lost girlfriend. But Terrier’s employers are emphatically not pleased with his
decision, old enemies begin to re-emerge, and soon Terrier is forced to once again ply his brutal trade.
Five years after West Coast Blues, his acclaimed adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Le Petit bleu de
la côte ouest (a.k.a. Three to Kill), Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed
with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller.
Manchette himself claimed to have written the novel in an attempt to emulate the ultraviolent, hellbent-for-leather,
pitch-black ambiance of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, and Tardi matches him bullet for bullet and
blow for blow. As The Village Voice noted of the original novel (La Position
du tireur couché, released in English under the title
The Prone Gunman by City Lights in 2001), “Thirty pages before the finale, it’s hard not to wonder how the book could possibly end... But the book does end, in circumstances far worse than you might
easily imagine, on a note of extraordinary bleakness.”
"...[L]ovely-looking, stylish and bleak as hell.... it's almost a human rights violation. Tardi's artwork is beautiful here, although you probably already knew that.... What a show." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...Jacques Tardi is certainly in [Alex] Toth’s league when it comes to rendering seamy genre fare with real artistry. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ... is a wonderfully wicked piece of work..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
"Jaques Tardi has already proven with West Coast Blues that he is just the man for the job when it comes to illustrating the particular brand of noir crime Jean-Patrick Manchette so deftly dished out.... The first page grabs you roughly by the hair and the book happens in those split seconds before the last page punches your lights out." – Hayley Campbell, The Comics Journal
Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell
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After the teeth-rattling one-two punch of West Coast Blues and Like a Sniper
Lining Up His Shot, Jacques Tardi makes a third appointment with ace crime
writer Jean-Patrick Manchette for his wildest adaptation yet.
Peter Hartog, a rich industrialist, hires a troubled young woman, Julie,
straight out of the psychiatric asylum to which she has been consigned for
several years, to work as a nanny for his bratty kid Peter. But Hartog's seemingly
altruistic impulse to help rehabilitate a troubled soul hides a darker
motive: He plans to stage a fake kidnapping of his son, and use Julie as a
Unfortunately for Hartog, Julie proves infinitely more tough and resourceful
than he expected, the kidnapping goes horribly, bloodily wrong, and now
Julie and Peter are on the run, pursued both by the police and by Hartog's
goons, led by the aging but fantastically dangerous contract killer Thompson
— one of Manchette's most unforgettable creations, a golem of Terminator-like tenacity who is barely slowed down by
physical punishment that would instantly kill a lesser man (he does not end the book with the same amount of eyes
and feet as he started).
As with the other Tardi/Manchette books, Run Like Crazy... is full of moments of pitch-black humor, and a strong
current of socio-political satire runs beneath its bleak surface. It's a ride to hell, but a devilishly fun one.