In Review: The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics

Editor: Paul Gravett
Publisher: Constance and Robinson

Considering crime comics as featured in this collection span some 80 years of the medium’s history, I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been for Paul Gravett, editor of The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics, to whittle his choices down to the excellent selection featured in this book.

Sandwiched between two great crime-inspired stories by Alan Moore (“Old Gangsters Never Die”, drawn by the much-missed-from-comicdom Lloyd Thatcher – where is he now? – and “I Keep Coming Back” Oscar Zarate) are 22 more top tales. These feature the work of creators such as Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Max Allan Collins, and Mickey Spillaine, the latter at his nastiest with the truly hard boiled Mike Hammer, just one of a host of characters many will recognise such as The Spirit, Ms. Tree and Agent X-9.

Superbly restored, albeit for one unfortunate page transposition in the X-9 story, the choice of stories is a delight, from straight mystery with Bernie Kriegstein adapting an 87th Precinct Mystery, “Blind Man’s Bluff”, originally penned by Ed McBain, to the creeping horror of crime-does-not pay tales from Johnny Craig (“The Sewer”) and Jack Cole (“Murder, Morphine and Me”). These veteran tales are neatly balance with modern stories from the likes of Paul Grist (“Kane: Rat in the House”) and Gianluigi Gonano and Gianni De Luca (“Comissario Spada: The Street”).

This is the kind of well put together, lovingly designed collection that not only delivers a great rad but leaves you wanting to track more from the creators featured. If crime comics are new to you but you fancy more than superhero fare, you’d be well advised to give this a try and find out what you’ve missed. If you are a crime comics fan, then The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics may well send you hunting for creators you’ll discover here for the first time. Recommended.

Buy Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics from amazon.com
Buy Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics from amazon.co.uk
View a selection of pages on The Times web site
Read an interview with Paul Gravett about Mammoth Crime Comics

Crime comic articles by Paul Gravett on his web site
Crime Comics: The Many Colours Of Noir
Charles Burns: Body Horror In Black Ink
Bernie Krigstein: The Right To Silence
José Muñoz: 2007 Angoulême Grand Prix Winner
Warren Pleece: Profile & Interview

Other Reviews
Read a review of the book by Steve Holland on Bear Alley
Read a review of the book on Crime Time
Read a review on Gad Sir! Comics

Other Links
Listen to an MP3 of “Old Gangsters Never Die”

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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