Casefile Arkham: Nightmare on Canvas - A Hank Flynn P.I. Story
Shortly after the world lost comic book legend Stan Lee, comedian and social commentator Bill Maher decided it was a great idea to come out and take the piss out of Stan Lee's legacy and the comic book medium. He claimed that the genre didn't deserve respect and that comics aren't all that big of a deal. To paraphrase his statements, Maher claimed that comics were childish and that our current political climate could only exist in a society that took comics seriously and held them on a pedestal.
In a world where Casefile Arkham exists the notion that Comics can't be considered works of art or at least in the same breath as other mature works of fiction is ludicrous.
Casefile Arkham is a 128-page graphic novel set in the 1940s. Hank Flynn is a downtrodden Private investigator that has returned from the war with an extreme case of PTSD. He sets up shop in Arkham,Massachusetts.
At the start of this journey he is hired to find a missing artist. The case starts off within standard confines of the noir genre but quickly escalates into the realm of the supernatural horror.
The Beauty of this comic is its imaginative take on the Noir setting. At first glance the details of the story are pretty basic. Any fan of the genre has seen these tropes before. There are private detectives, sexy dames, danger, and damsels in distress. These characters are a dime a dozen in a noir setting. Once you throw hellish monsters and landscapes into the mix you get something something truly unique.
I would put Casefile Arkham up against any comic or graphic novel in the genre. It's a great read and worth a reread from time to time. The aren't any weak elements. The story moves quickly but doesn't insult your intelligence. The plot is intricate with the threads constantly building until it reaches a crescendo by the end.
The script and sharp dialogue is matched by the stunning pencils and inks. Every page is interesting to look at and I often found myself just in awe of the details found within the imagery. It's not Bernie Wrightson level of detail, but its damn awesome. Black and white comics tend to lose me but in this instance, the pencils are just as good as any other colored panel.
After finishing the novel I kept thinking that this comic would make an excellent video game in the style of Rockstar's L.A. Noire but with supernatural elements. There is a lot of potential with this character and setting I hope it eventually translates into another medium.
I would also like to see the creators keep working within this world as it advances the medium and breaks down the barriers and expectations of what can be produced in comics.
People like Bill Maher look down at comics and graphic novels as child play. They totally disregard the potential of the mediums blend of story narrative and artistry. Casefile Arkham is a case study of what comics can be.