Friday, December 30, 2011


Sean Phillips Artwork for The Criterion Collection

If you are going to write a crime noir comic book then you better immerse yourself in the classics to understand the genre. A few writers get it right and too many get it wrong. Let's correct the mistakes. There are plenty of books and films to read and watch and my first film suggestion is the 1961 cult classic, Blast of Silence. Written and directed by Allen Baron, Blast of Silence, follows a hitman named Frankie Bono (Allen Barron) who is hired to take out a New York City mob boss named Troiano during Christmas.

This film has everything for a crime noir education. First, there is the hard boiled narrator who is perfect throughout the entire film. He has many great lines like, "The target's name is Troiano. You know the type, second-string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache, to hide the fact that he has lips like a woman. The kind of face you hate."  Perfect. That's the kind of stuff one needs for a perfect crime noir tale. You need that gritty style of writing for it to work. Secondly, the cast has two very strong characters. First, there is the lead, Frankie Bono, who is a man of few words but has the cold look of a hitman. Bono does not spew out action movie cliches but keeps his words short and sweet. Also, watch Frankie's facial expressions. A character does not always need to say something in every panel. Allow their facial expressions to do the talking. Secondly, we have Big Ralph (Larry Tucker), a rat-loving contact who somewhat resembles the Orson Welles of the Paul Masson era. Ralph is scummy and you are not sure if he can be trusted. He plays innocent but you know Ralph could rat you out for some dough. Finally, we have the great setting of New York City. Director Allen Baron worked with cinematographer Merrill S. Brody to deliver some fantastic noir visuals for this film.

I strongly encourage you to watch this film, which in my opinion is a masterpiece of crime noir.    

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, and Day 165.

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