In his sci-fi breakthrough novel La invención de Morel (The Invention of Morel), Adolfo Bioy Casares created a character, Faustine, based on silent movie star Louise Brooks. Twenty-five years later, artist and illustrator Guido Crepax started publishing his erotic books about photographer Valentina, a character with a look based on Brooks' and he even became a friend and regular correspondent with the actress late in her life.
In 1982, Michelangelo Antonioni featured instead in his film Identificazione di una donna (Identification of a woman), a main character, Niccolò, fascinated by the actress. Yet these are just three random homages to a woman who became throughout the years a beautiful obsession for many artists, directors, fashion designers, writers and musicians. American cartoonist and illustrator Rick Geary now elevates his favourite silent movie icon to investigator in a recently released graphic novel.
Louise Brooks, Detective (NBM Publishing) takes place after Brooks' career has come to a standstill. The actress briefly goes back home to Wichita, moving in with her parents. In Wichita Brooks is both resented for having been a success and despised (even by her own mother...) for being a failure, though she makes a few efforts to settle. Brooks opens (and soon closes) a dance school, eventually gets a job as a shop assistant at a lady's store and makes friends with Helen, a young lady working at the Jenkins Music Store.Brooks' new ordinary life is shaken by a mysterious murder, involving Helen's shady beau Walden Pond and a reclusive writer Brooks had briefly corresponded with when she worked as a dancer. She will eventually solve the mystery by turning into a detective, an unusual role that will inspire her to find new hopes in the future, and try and fulfill her literary aspirations in New York.
Geary moves from real facts in his graphic novel, but then builds the fictional part of the story in a credible way, turning the actress into an ordinary looking woman (Brooks sports longer hair and a fringe, while Lulu's bob only appears in flashbacks and in old pictures) who wants to find a role in society rather than in a film. Style-wise Geary starts off with bibliographic references, then provides maps of Wichita and Burden, where the murder takes place to help the readers visualising the locations and try and find their own solution. The artwork seems inspired by 1940s crime dramas and yet retains a modern edge: Brooks' story and her impression of being a “failure as a social creature”, as she claimed later on in her life during interviews, perfectly sums up the way many grown up women who have reached a point of stagnation in their lives may feel like.
While this intriguing and gripping story is the perfect read to start the Summer as the murder takes place in a placid June in Burden, it's also a must for all the Louise Brooks (and crime) fans out there. So don't be disappointed by the lack of glamorous costumes à la Ziegfeld Follies, there's plenty of action to engage you. Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos