Last of the Independents

Last week I ordered two graphic novels that I have been meaning to get for literally years. The first, which I’ll talk about today, is Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer.I’d meant to purchase Last of the Independents when it was first published back in 2003. I just never got around to it. But when Christopher Mills posted a perfect 6 out of 6 review for it on his Guns in the Gutters blog, my interest was rekindled. Then in this month’s issue of Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips [also worth picking up], Matt Fraction joined Charlie Huston and Greg Rucka [two of my favorite authors] in a discussion of 70’s crime movies. [The issue is worth picking up just to read their thoughts on the subject.] At any rate, Fraction talks about getting his title Last of the Independents from the unused title for “Charley Varrick” [a 70’s crime flick]. So I was sold and ordered Fraction and Dwyer’s graphic novel.

Last of the Independents is Fraction’s love letter to the creators and fans of the movie “Charley Varrick”. Like in the movie, a middle aged guy and his crew knock off a small town bank only to discover it’s mob money that they’ve stolen. There are other similarities, but never does this feel like anything more than a tip of the fedora to a movie, a genre and an era that had an enormous impact on crime fiction fans. Fraction’s story and script are first rate. He drops us in as the bank is being robbed and introduces us to the main characters quickly without wordy exposition. In fact, he often lets Kieron Dwyer’s art tell the tale. Dwyer’s art is perfect for the graphic novel. [I’ve been a fan of his work for some time and hope to someday see a piece by him in my Stallone Gallery.]

One final note, the graphic novel is presented in a “widescreen” format. I usually get annoyed by graphic novels that don’t fit nicely on the book shelf. The publisher, AIT/Planet Lar, must have realized how picky collector’s can be because this graphic novel comes with a vertical slipcover that makes it possible for it to be shelved on the bookcase with other “regular” graphic novels. Kudos for whoever worked out such a creative and simple solution.

Last of the Independents rates an “A”.