A Vanity Fair Best Book of 2014. A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2014. When three daunting dolls intersect with one hapless heroine and a hard-boiled private eye, deception, betrayal, and murder stalk every mean street in…Kill My Mother.
Adding to a legendary career that includes a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, Obie Awards, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Cartoonist Society and the Writers Guild of America, Jules Feiffer now presents his first noir graphic novel. Kill My Mother is a loving homage to the pulp-inspired films and comic strips of his youth. Channeling Eisner's The Spirit, along with the likes of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, John Huston, and Billy Wilder, and spiced with the deft humor for which Feiffer is renowned, Kill My Mother centers on five formidable women from two unrelated families, linked fatefully and fatally by a has-been, hard-drinking private detective.
As our story begins, we meet Annie Hannigan, an out-of-control teenager, jitterbugging in the 1930s. Annie dreams of offing her mother, Elsie, whom she blames for abandoning her for a job soon after her husband, a cop, is shot and killed. Now, employed by her husband’s best friend—an over-the-hill and perpetually soused private eye—Elsie finds herself covering up his missteps as she is drawn into a case of a mysterious client, who leads her into a decade-long drama of deception and dual identities sprawling from the Depression era to World War II Hollywood and the jungles of the South Pacific.
Along with three femme fatales, an obsessed daughter, and a loner heroine, Kill My Mother features a fighter turned tap dancer, a small-time thug who dreams of being a hit man, a name-dropping cab driver, a communist liquor store owner, and a hunky movie star with a mind-boggling secret. Culminating in a U.S.O. tour on a war-torn Pacific island, this disparate band of old enemies congregate to settle scores.
In a drawing style derived from Steve Canyon and The Spirit, Feiffer combines his long-honed skills as cartoonist, playwright, and screenwriter to draw us into this seductively menacing world where streets are black with soot and rain, and base motives and betrayal are served on the rocks in bars unsafe to enter. Bluesy, fast-moving, and funny, Kill My Mother is a trip to Hammett-Chandler-Cain Land: a noir-graphic novel like the movies they don’t make anymore.
It's not often that a graphic novel generates the kind of prepublication attention that this rare graphic novel effort by the multitalented, Pulitzer Prize winning Feiffer has generated, but this is no ordinary graphic novel. Intertwining the lives of five well-rounded female characters in an exceptionally complex narrative, the novel takes us through the Depression and war years at a pace that is positively frenetic. With hidden secrets, dual identities, mystery, and murder, Feiffer creates a fusion of genres that reads like a film noir written by a dramatist or a cartoonist's version of a pulp detective story done as a stage play all mediums that the author has triumphed in. Feiffer's consummate cartooning skills are everywhere in evidence here, but most impressive is the way he shifts the reader's viewpoint with panels that go from Toulouse-Lautrec to Pollock, all in a moment. His canvas gives each of the characters an altogether different dimension: a kind of visceral immediacy that projects every emotion with stunning impact. The result is an achievement of tremendous breadth and scope.