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Hard Looks

This was the most story-based of all of the graphic novels that I read this week. Vachss is a writer for more mainstream publications and his ability to tell a story really shines through this collection of illustrated pieces, some in graphic novel format and some no more than stories with a few pictures thrown in. All the pieces are adapted by others and illustratred by others. I’m curious to learn more about the process by which the stories were converted to graphic novel format.

Vachss is a bad-ass dude with an eye patch and a long list of difficult jobs behind him [prison director, labor organizer, &c] and the grittiness of the things he’s seen translate into raw and sometimes painful scenarios for the characters he writes. A 15 year old boy makes it big by getting to be a shooter for a drug kingpin, a girl who was abused by her father finds acting work for a phone sex line, a killer continues is work uninterrupted, relying on the racism of the townspeople to keep him safe. With less effective writing or half-assed illustration, these would just be not-too-interesting pulp bits, but under Vachss hand and his collaborators, they jump off the page and right into your brain.