Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Stumptown

Stumptown is one of those graphic novels that seems to have been created for my sole enjoyment.

The story follows Dex Parios, a private investigator who has been spending more time racking up a massive debt at the Whispering Winds casino than cracking cases lately.  Her recent cold streak at the craps table has left her owing 18 large to the casino.  For Better or worse, her luck changes when she is called upon to meet with Sue-Lynne, head of the casino.  Sue-Lynne's granddaughter has gone missing, and if Dex can track her down, Sue-Lynne will erase Dex's debt.  But finding Sue-Lynne's wayward granddaughter might be more trouble than it's worth for Dex.

 So, a crime caper set in my backwoods, the pacific northwest, with a female lead who isn't just the main character so that copious amounts of T&A can be on display, but someone most any reader, male or female, can relate to.  Yeah, it was hard for me to put this one down.

Greg Rucka's name carries a lot of weight in the comics industry, but Stumptown was my first exposure to his work.  Overall, I found his writing, plotting and pacing to be quite good.  I was hooked from the opening pages, and totally engrossed throughout the entire graphic novel.  I think Rucka's strength lies in his ability to write characters like they are regular people not just caricatures of typical crime story denizens.  Even his thugs for hire seem to have more depth than your typical hired muscle.

The story of Stumptown unfolds nicely.  There are plenty of ins, outs and twists that will keep any crime lover happy.  It's one of those stories where you know no one is telling the truth and the path to said truth is a rocky road for Dex.

No comic or graphic novel is complete without a strong art component and Matthew Southworth seems to be the perfect artist for this tale.  His gritty and grainy art style sets the tone perfectly for this down and dirty crime story.  Southworth's art, and color palette definitely make the comic feel like it is set in the Pacific North West.  His ability to fully capture Portland, and its surrounds make this comic a little bit more special. In my opinion, the art was perfect for the story. 

Now, I'll admit, there's a pretty good chance I had a predilection towards Stumptown to begin with. Before I ever did more than read the first few pages, my copy sported a lovely sketch and personalization from the artist, Matt Southworth.  The fact that he took the time to add a sketch, and talk to me about his guitar influences (of all things) makes this comic all the more special to me. 

Despite the fact that my copy, and interactions I had with part of the creative team, make Stumptown a special piece on my shelves, it is for sure a great comic, and worth the read.  The current edition you'll find in stores has a nice hard cover, and thick, high quality pages.  It's also slightly oversized from your standard graphic novel, all which make it even more worth reading.  The larger format allows for better enjoyment of the art, the overall quality is fitting for the quality of the story.  Stumptown is one of those stories I know for sure I'll find myself reading again over the years.  I definitely recommend this one.

Grade: A

No comments: