Top positive review
Going Beyond Genre
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2015
I bought Memphis Noir for the “noir” but everyone should read it for the evocative beauty of “The Never Never is Forever,” a very short graphic novel in this collection. I began the story anticipating the promised “noir” set in the Memphis “that only the locals know.” I wasn’t disappointed. The artist, Adam Shaw, using every shade of black and gray, sucks you right in to the smoky, oppressive Memphis night. The first page catapults you into a sleazy Memphis scene of cheap sex, cheap drugs and cheap rock ‘n roll. The reader is quickly immersed in a world of drugged out losers leeching off each other in a bleak “waste-opolis.” If that’s all it was, I would recommend this story as a piece of darn fine classic noir story-telling. But it is so much more than that. Go back and reread the first page. Packed into its scant 60 words you come across allusions to goth rock, Hindu mysticism, and H.P. Lovecraft. We are told that the booze-addled hero is a guitarist in a rock band called Shoggoth. Not merely a cool sounding moniker, Shoggoths were amorphous shape-shifters, originally lacking any consciousness, controlled by hypnotic suggestion. Over time they developed consciousness and independent minds. So, too, the guitarist. While this hauntingly written and drawn story appears at first blush to be plucked straight from the cynical noir genre, upon closer inspection it is something altogether different. It is, in fact, an achingly lovely tale of the power of love to make us see, to give us strength, and to empower us to choose our own destinies. It is a story, ultimately, about second chances. If that’s not the opposite of “noir” I don’t know what is.