***I received a copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for a fair and honest review***
Louis L'Amour is without a doubt, the definitive author for western fiction. His list of works is nearly endless, and there's a reason that most western fiction collections you see in libraries or bookstores are predominately consisted of L'Amour titles. When I saw that a graphic novel had been adapted from one of his stories, I found it kind of strange but interesting as well. It's not the kind of story that a typical graphic novel reader would pick up and read, but more and more we are finding that some of the timeless fictional stories are being converted into graphic novel form for fans old and new to enjoy.
I would like to start by saying I'm not a huge fan of western fiction in any of its forms, but recently I have started to have an appreciation for newer western films that stick to classic western styles. This is the first time I've ever read anything western, and I think this was a good way to start. Lopez is a great character, and his story told throughout the book is the driving force behind its greatness. His association with other characters in the book makes him the main protagonist, in my eyes, and it causes you to look at everyone else with a careful eye because of Lopez's apparent wisdom. He seems to know more than the rest of the characters in the book, which in turns exudes confident and wholesome qualities about a character that maybe 40 years ago would have been the one to have watched with a careful eye.
The story is superbly crafted, told in "present day" with flashbacks scattered throughout. On the first read through, I found it kind of complicated with the flashbacks mixed in throughout. Part of me wishes the story could have been more linear, but it may have taken away from the final impact of the story. I think I would have been able to follow the plot better had it been straight through the first time around, but the use of these flashbacks helps to further the emotional impact of the story and delay the final punch until the end of the book. I think a little more background on Marone before the chase begins would have been neat, but it wasn't necessary in telling this story.
The thing I liked most about this book is the art. Usually, black and white illustration in graphic novels is not my favorite, but there are stories that should only be told in black and white. This is one of those stories, being that it takes place in a western setting and most stories like this told in film were during the black and white era of motion pictures. Westerns are no longer, and haven't been for awhile, the most popular genre of film, but it only seems appropriate to tell a story like this in shades of gray. The shading and the art on each page was breathtaking, and I haven't been this impressed with black and white in a long time. It suits the book really well. The only problem I had here is that sometimes it was hard to tell which character was which on the page, or who was on the page to begin with. When everyone and their father wears cowboys hats, has a horse, and wears the same style clothes, it's hard to tell who is who.
Other than the few minor annoyances, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to mostly adult graphic novel readers. The combination of character illustration issues, and the flashbacks threw me for a loop at first, but with a more studious second read I found it to be a quality graphic novel. I would especially recommend this to an older crowd, as I've already passed this along to older family members who are fans of the western genre. I would definitely be interested to see if more of L'Amour's work shows up in graphic novel form, and I'd hope that the illustrative duties would be taken care of just as perfectly as they were here. The book is hefty, and while large, it enables the art more room to pop off the page and display Thomas Yeates excellent black and white illustrations. A lot of credit goes to the team that brought this book to life for a new generation, and possibly a younger audience. 3.5 stars.
Originally posted at sixthreezy at the movies & more!