It Rhymes With Lust by Drake Weller and Matt Baker (graphic novel review).

July 30, 2022 | By | Reply More

When I was reading the Arnold Drake interview in Alter Ego # 17, he mentioned that he co-wrote ‘It Rhymes With Lust’, as drawn by Matt Baker. I pulled a copy after reading TwoMorrows book on Baker but hadn’t found time to read it but seemed an idea opportunity to match to that issue.

Technically, ‘It Rhymes With Lust’ is outside out remit, with novelist Leslie Waller and Arnold Drake under the name Drake Weller wrote and Matt Baker is one of the first black American comicbook artists which deserves your attention. Back in the day, in 1950, when this graphic novel was released they weren’t called that but ‘picture novels’. Dark Horse re-released it in 2007, which is the copy I have here. The story is very much a film noir type which would have worked well as a film with Rust Masson as the femme fatale.

After the death of her husband, his widow Rust Masson, the lady on the cover, uses her wealth to take control of Copper City behind the scenes. Hal Weber, a journalist and now becoming editor of city newspaper has a past with Rust but finds himself manipulated but also falling in love with her step-daughter, Audrey, who knows what is going on and what’s him to act. The story perspective changes to different characters but Rust Masson is clearly manipulative.

Mid-way through the book, she outmanoeuvres the local bus service owner by reminding him all the depots are on land she owns and will put the rents up unless he sells her controlling interest shares at half the going rate. A demonstration of ruthlessness that will make you sit up. A lot of the story is seeing the build-up of corruption and finally the comeuppance when people get the nerve to stand up against it and, more importantly, survive.

Saying too much will act as spoiler although the ending shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. What this ‘picture novel’ does show is how talented Matt Baker was in layout, design, inking and using the then new zip-a-tone (created in 1947) to give background textures from time to time. This story could so easily have turned into talking heads and you can see how he realised that might happen quickly turn it on its head (sic). About the only surprise was a lack of people of colour within the story but that might be purely for the time period it was created than anything else.

Nevertheless, if you want a change from Science Fiction and a riveting story, you might consider this one.

GF Willmetts

July 2022

(pub: Dark Horse, 2007. 136 page A5 graphic novel. Price: I think I pulled my copy for about £ 9.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59307-728-0)

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Category: Comics

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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