Noir billed itself as an "Illustrated Crime Fiction Quarterly." It was a great idea, but unfortunately it failed after only three issues (and two publishers), a 64-page, comic-book size modern-day pulp magazine featuring fiction, art and comic strips by some of the greatest talents in the mystery, crime fiction and comics fields of the time. Contributors included Robert Randisi, Ron Goulart, Wendi Lee, C.J. Henderson, and Max Allan Collins. It was just a little too hip for the room; too out there for the newstands and maybe a little too wordy for the comic book stores (except of course for mondo gonzo places like Nebula). I bagged and boarded my much-read copies and stowed 'em away...
I next stumbled across Chris -- or he stumbled across me -- several years later, when he submitted a couple of short stories featuring his Maine P.I. Matthew Dain (both must reads) to Thrilling Detective, and then pitched the idea of running a new weekly web comic -- about a hard-boiled (and masked) female crime fighter -- on my site. We did, and the rest is history. Or at least a moderately amusing story to tell over a few beers one day (suffice it to say that Chris is a very interesting guy with more than a few stories to tell and that I was not the only Kevin Smith to fall under the dame's charms).
Well, that strip, Femme Noir, is finally (finally!) making it into print, revamped and ready to kick ass, and anyone out there who likes detective stories and comic books and isn't getting enough high-fibre pulp in their diet is definitely in for a treat. Imagine Red Harvest meets The Dark Knight, starring the bastard love-child of radio's The Shadow and Eisner's The Spirit set loose in Gotham City, with a script cobbled together by Chester Gould, Dash Hammett and Bob Kane on a three-day bender (possibly at Spillane's house). And then imagine the Spirit as a dame with to-die-for-gams in a broad-brimmed hat, a trenchcoat, fishnets and spike heels. Armed with twin automatics not afraid to sneeze "KA-CHOW!"
Yeah, this is comic book land, so there's plenty of two-fisted, gun-blazing action (and more than a few winks, nods and tips of the fedora to assorted pop culture miscreants), but the story, about a mysterious (but easy on the eyes) masked vigilante out to clean up Port Nocturne one thug at a time, hits all the right notes.
You want it? Femme Noir's got it: mean streets, treacherous back alleys, cold-blooded bad guys, slimy gang lords, killer robots, big city corruption, and a mysterious crime-fighting avenger who definitely knows how to fill out a pair of fishnets, and isn't above serving up her own kind of justice. Blonde justice.
Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries, a four-issue, full-color miniseries, with art by legendary comic book guy Joe Staton, hits the streets (and hipper comic book joints) this month.
Lord knows, there are plenty of other comic books out there, full of over-developed mouth-breathers and angsty navel-gazers running around in their underwear, all vying for your hard-earned geetus, but there's only one Femme Noir. As the lady herself might say:
"You boys have a choice to make. Choose well."