Sunday, May 26, 2013

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

by Matt Kindt

I've been consistently intrigued by Matt Kindt's work since I discovered him a few years back.  Books like Spy Story, 3 Story, and Revolver have played with genre expectations in new and surprising ways, and have told some solid, interesting stories.  Currently, Kindt is hitting it out of the park on a monthly basis with Mind MGMT, his series at Dark Horse, and I imagined that writing and drawing a monthly comic for the last year, as well as taking on the occasional writing assignment for DC, would have kept him too busy to make an entire graphic novel on the side, but Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes is proof that this guy is a workhouse as well as a genius.

Red Handed plays with the detective and police procedural genres.  It's set in the town of Red Wheel Barrow, a place with a very high crime rate, but with also a perfect rate for crimes being solved, especially when Detective Gould is on the case.  Using the latest in police techniques and gadgets, Gould solves every case that comes across his desk, no matter how random or strange it might seem.  And in Red Wheel Barrow, the crimes are always strange.

Each chapter in this book examines a different crime.  We have a woman who obsessively steals chairs, including an electric chair.  We have a frustrated wannabe writer who steals street and business signs so as to write her novel on the walls of five rented warehouses.  We have an elevator repairman who uses a hidden camera to take erotic photos of the women he rescues.

There are some threads that connect all of these crimes however, as Detective Gould has a nemesis who he is not aware of, someone who is working hard to arrange events that should bring Gould down.

Kindt's storytelling in terrific.  He builds and discards his characters regularly, and finishes most chapters with what look like photographs of newspaper strips before they are published.  Kindt has always been one to play with the conventions of the comic book, and it's very cool to see him do it here so effortlessly.  This is a very cool, very engaging book.

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