Lark's impressive comics adaptation of Chandler's archetypal hardboiled detective novel integrates the best of the latter's classic tough-guy dialogue and feverishly intricate plotting with Lark's stylishly noir illustrations. Bespectacled, spinsterish Midwesterner Orfamay Quest visits the down-at-the heels office of PI Philip Marlowe, ostensibly looking for her missing brother. But Marlowe soon learns that the case is not simple; as the bodies proliferate, it's clear that the little sister knows a lot more than she admits. Lark captures 1940s L.A.'s gloomy, neon-lit luxuriousness; the cigarettes and trench coats, snap-brim fedoras and snappier dialogue ("So I kissed her. It was either that or slug her."). His chiaroscuro drawings are a bit static, but his elegant panel compositions, generally shrouded in flat black shadows and accented by wan earth tones, serve as wonderfully cinematic snapshots of the novel's action. (May)
A great deal of Chandler's work has been transposed to films, and now we're seeing the first graphic novel adaptation of his 1949 mystery novel, The Little Sister. Illustrator/adapter Lark, who has authored various comic-book series, has done a credible job translating Chandler's story from one medium to another. Large chunks of Chandler's original text complement the pleasant and eerie illustrations, which succeed in giving the book a 1930s cinematic look. It's questionable whether the graphic-novel version has the impact of Chandler's original, and it's not clear whether graphic-novel readers enjoy the mystery genre. Still, this book is a good companion to the adaptation, Paul Auster's City of Glass (Avon, 1994) and will be useful where similar books are popular. For public libraries.Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., Mass.
Anyone who's found Chandler's peerless Philip Marlowe novels tangled (and who hasn't?) may have wondered if reimagining them as comic bookssorry, graphic novelswould make their dizzying plotlines any clearer. In adapting the 1949 tale of Marlowe's strangest clientOrfamay Quest, who's looking for a little brother who obviously doesn't want to be foundDC comic artist Lark wields a stylish, even severe, pen. There's practically no blood, despite several killings with ice pick and pistol; the Art Deco visuals are so restrained that each panel rarely shows more than a couple of generic heads or heads-and-shoulders; and all Marlowe's best wisecracks remain intact in outsized dialogue bubbles. Sadly, despite a few helpfully illustrated flashbacks, so does all of Chandler's original confusion.
Worth having as an adjunct to the novel, though the main effect of Lark's adaptation is to provide 144 pages of talking heads.