Overview

The Micanopy Murders Book One

Review

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The Micanopy Murders Book One

Credits

  • Words: Elizabeth Blue
  • Art: Elizabeth Blue
  • Publisher: Atlantic Press
  • Price: £9.99
  • Release Date: Mar 9, 2012

With memorable protagonists, a perfectly captured sense of small town community, and intriguing questions abounding, this is an involving set-up for a mystery that will play out over another two issues.

Florida, in the early 1960s and the small town of Micanopy is experiencing its hottest summer in forty years. In seeming conjunction with the uncomfortable weather patterns, a killer is prowling the area using the storms that eventually break the overpowering heat to mask their actions. Having already murdered resident Rich Hicks’s wife Rebecca they are about to claim another victim. Meanwhile, young local girl Misty Waters is having violent nightmares; dreams about the slayings so vivid that they seem to imply a preternatural link between herself and the murderer…

If you will forgive me for stating the blindingly obvious for one moment, judging whether The Micanopy Murders hangs together as an effective crime drama will need to wait until writer-artist Elizabeth Blue’s symbolic murder mystery reaches its denouement in the third and concluding book of the series. However, this intense first chapter piqued my interest on a number of levels, both in terms of presentation and content.

Let’s talk about the format and visual approach first. In The Micanopy Murders Blue is not afraid in the slightest to adopt a number of ever shifting narrative styles to communicate her story. She begins Book One with an almost storybook feel of single illustrations on one page being accompanied by explanatory text on the facing one, before flowing into traditional comic strip layouts. The Micanopy Murders also utilises the seldom employed landscape format which allows Blue to occasionally segue into evocative, silent, two-page panoramic spreads. Throughout, her black and white illustration has a haunting, almost dreamlike quality to it. There’s a soft focus, muddied feel to her layouts which only intensifies the effectiveness of the book’s suffocating moodiness and melancholy tone.

Indeed, to call The Micanopy Murders highly atmospheric is almost a criminal understatement. It’s a book charged with tension, with the storm the town’s residents are initially waiting for to rid them of the unbearably high summer temperature also acting as metaphor for something far more sinister that is looming in the near future. And that heat in the opening pages… that oppressive, intolerable heat assaulting the cast of characters – it almost radiates off the page and envelops the reader too in its insufferable, excruciating grasp.

With memorable protagonists, a perfectly captured sense of small town community, and intriguing questions abounding, this is an involving set-up for a mystery that will play out over another two issues. Available from U.K. indie publishers Atlantic Press here, The Micanopy Murders Book One is a most promising debut graphic novel indeed from creator Elizabeth Blue.

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