Drawing Crime Noir

    (Watson-Guptill, 2007)
™ and © Christopher Hart

Cutting the comics pie into ever-finer slices, this prolific “how to draw” author serves up a primer on depicting cops and robbers. As “film noir” is a cinematic genre pitting a solitary crime fighter against a stacked deck, this book conflates the concept with the style of such popular titles as Sin City.

Tips center on illustrating stock characters from gumshoes and working girls to stool pigeons and hit men. Along the way, angles are offered on representing shadows and light on faces, bodies, and streets. There are also set-ups for movie scenes and alley fights.

As hard-boiled detectives, pulp fiction, and raw deals have proven a best-selling cocktail, from Mike Hammer to Dirty Harry, Hart cannily picks another trendy topic. The result is an odd hybridization of The Matrix, Buffy, The Punisher, and Batman, which indicates that this subject is less a drawing “category” than a narrative device. However, this book is much better illustrated than Hart’s previous titles, because Hart has successfully developed the formula of farming out the work to better comics artists.

— Oliver Chin
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