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Nightmare Alley

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This engrossing graphic adaptation of the 1930s noir novel by William Lindsay Gresham is a study of the lowest depths of showbiz and its sleazy inhabitants: scheming grifters, cheap hustlers and Machiavellian femmes fatales.
An adaptation of the long out-of-print 1930s cult novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, illustrated by legendary underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez. The story is a study of the lowest depths of showbiz and its sleazy inhabitants and ...

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Overview

This engrossing graphic adaptation of the 1930s noir novel by William Lindsay Gresham is a study of the lowest depths of showbiz and its sleazy inhabitants: scheming grifters, cheap hustlers and Machiavellian femmes fatales.
An adaptation of the long out-of-print 1930s cult novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, illustrated by legendary underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez. The story is a study of the lowest depths of showbiz and its sleazy inhabitants and environs, the dark, shadowy world of a second rate carnival filled with cheap hustlers, scheming grifters, and Machiavellian femmes fatales. Gresham was born in Baltimore in 1909, but grew up in New York. Nightmare Alley was highly influenced by the freaks and sideshows he routinely observed at Coney Island as a child. The dark side of carnival life is the world of Nightmare Alley, deeply rooted in early film noir and the hard-boiled books of Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. Rodriguez's illustrations compliment Gresham's dark, brooding, cynical and complex world perfectly — the rich imagery of Gresham's prose is perfectly realized by Rodriguez's brush. The book depicts the rise of Stan Carlisle from a carnival mentalist to a successful "spiritualist," preying on the rich and gullible matrons of society, to his eventual fall and total disintegration.

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Editorial Reviews

Time
“Part of a comix generation that made its reputation breaking taboos, Spain's instinct for sensationalism... also perfectly match the pulp, exploitation origins of Nightmare Alley.”
Booklist
“This lurid yarn still grabs and holds.”
The Hartford Advocate
“A product of Buffalo, NY in the 1950s...Rodriguez is the real deal, utterly devoted to political and cultural revolution, and taking numerous licks from the billy clubs of officers to prove it.”
Time Magazine
Well, here is the real stuff: not a neo-noir homage, but the genuine india-ink original. Nightmare Alley combines the creepy world of Tod Browning's movie, "Freaks" with the relentless cynicism of a Jim Thompson novel. As adapted by Spain, Nightmare pulls you into a secret world, with its own colorful language. — Andrew D. Arnold
Hartford Advocate
Rodriguez is the real deal,utterly devoted to political and cultural revolution.
Publishers Weekly
Stanton Carlisle runs toward a light at the end of a corridor of outstretched arms. In underground cartoonist Rodriguez's skilled hands, such imagery gains an inexorable visual and narrative logic. Like the original 1946 novel by Gresham, and the subsequent Tyrone Power film, this Nightmare Alley is a portrait of greed seen through the rise and fall of a carny con man. Carlisle starts off as a small-time magician in a travelling show. The show's kindhearted mentalist teaches him the art of fortune telling, but Carlisle soon makes a bid for more elaborate cons. He ascends to high society parlors and becomes addicted to the idea of tricking the wealthy. How he ends up selling his act to a skeptical, high-powered industrialist is a study in both psychological savvy and moral deterioration. Cons always rely as much on intuition as on sleight-of-hand, so it's no surprise that Carlisle's downfall comes from his own lack of self-understanding. After manipulating so many people for so long, he ends up as the stooge for the one person who could outthink him: his therapist lover. Rodriguez, who spent seven years on this adaptation, makes no such miscalculation. His extreme angles and high-contrast imagery help him remain faithful to the story's cynicism, while his deft handling of carny jargon give readers a inside look at everything from how cons are played to the origins of the word "geek." The alley of Stanton Carlisle's nightmare might be his own arid soul, but it's revealed through the pitiless precision of Rodriguez's art. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560975113
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Spain Rodriguez is one of the most well-known artists in the comix underground. He
(along with Robert Crumb) was one of the founding members of Zap Comics and has a reputation as an outstanding political artist. He is the author of several graphic novels, including Cruisin' With the Hound and the highly acclaimed Nightmare Alley. His work is prominently featured in BLAB!, an annual comic anthology that has also featured Charles Burns, Mark Mothersbaugh, Daniel Clowes, and Chris Ware.

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