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File:ChandlerRedTide2.jpg
Chandler: Red Tide is a 1976 illustrated novel, an early form of graphic novel, by writer-artist Jim Steranko.

The digest-sized book combines typeset text with two same-sized illustrations per page, utilizing no word balloons or other traditional comics text conventions. A hard-boiled detective novel in the film noir style, its protagonist is a private detective named Chandler (an homage to author Raymond Chandler) who is hired by a man who claims to have been poisoned by the same people responsible for a notorious gangland slaying. As Chandler tracks down witnesses, each begins to turn up dead.

Publication history

File:FictionIllustratedVol3.jpg

Packaged by Byron Preiss Visual Publications and published by Pyramid Books,[1] under vice-president Norman Goldfind,[2] in 1976, Chandler was written, drawn, and colored by veteran comics creator Jim Steranko, who also provided the cover painting and oversaw production, including design and typography.[citation needed] There is an introduction by crime novelist and former San Francisco private detective Joe Gores, and a foreword by Preiss. The original cover price was one dollar.

Preiss said the book was created to retail at American newsstands alongside hundreds of other paperback offerings".[3] The mass-market edition (ISBN 0-515-04078-9), which Preiss said had a "50,000+ press run",[3] was supplemented by a 750-copy limited edition with a tipped-in signature plate.[citation needed] The latter edition was double the dimensions of the newsstand edition.[3]

The third in a series from the publisher, it is also known as Fiction Illustrated Vol. 3. (See image at left.)

Steranko, who retained rights to the character, was then assigned to create a 12-page "Chandler" story for Penthouse magazine, working with executive editor Art Cooper. When Cooper departed Penthouse, they project was canceled and Steranko was paid a kill fee.[4]

Dark Horse Comics had planned to publish a revised edition of Chandler: Red Tide in December 1999, with revamped and more hardboiled art and text by Steranko,[5] but this did not see fruition.

Production

Steranko in 1978 recalled the project's genesis:

Chandler was a fill-in book. That particular number of [the] Fiction Illustrated [series] was to have been Ralph Reese's Sherlock Holmes book [eventually published as Fiction Illustrated #4 — Son of Sherlock Holmes (1977)]. Ralph had worked on it for a year, and Byron realized ... that the book couldn't get out in time. He asked me if I would do a book to replace it. There are two men you never ask to fill in on a late deadline: Neal Adams and myself. We're both overcommitted . Byron's a good friend and I tried to do what I could for him, so I said I would do this book. It was produced in 2½ months where it should have taken at least six months to do. It was my first visual novel, and it was a major project.[6]

Steranko has said that in creating the book he used golden sectioning, "a mathematical formula to arrange elements in a unified structure, to create an image-to-text relationship that readers would be very comfortable with. The text on any given page related only to that page".[7]

Reception

File:ChanderlRedTide-panel.png

Chandler: Red Tide did not meet sales expectations, with Steranko recalling in 2003 that, "When the book appeared it was not embraced by the comic-book community because it didn't have word balloons or captions. Believe it or not, they found that shocking!"[7] In 1978, shortly after the book's publication, he said, "I was disappointed in Pyramid's distribution and promotion of it. ... They did a major mailing on it, but there was more that can be done".[6]

Illustrated-novel format

Chanlder: Red Tide is similar to Harold Foster's comic strip Prince Valiant in that the narrative is carried by a combination of graphics and text blocks without word balloons. Critics are divided on whether it is a true graphic novel, its advocates noting that its images are integral to the story rather than merely illustrating the text.[citation needed] Steranko used the term "graphic novel" in his introduction, though it was labeled "a visual novel" on the cover.

References

  1. The back cover reads: "A Pyramid publication produced by Byron Preiss Visual Publications"
  2. Ashley, Mike. Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines, 1970–1980, (Liverpool University Press - Liverpool Science Fiction Texts & Studies, 2007), p.323
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Preiss, Byron "Eisner or Steranko? Check the Facts" (op-ed), ComiCon.com: The Pulse, July 22, 2003
  4. Burchett, Rick, and Ed. Mantels, "Whizzard Talks to Steranko", Whizzard vol. 2, #11 [issue #16] (Summer 1978; published by Marty Klug, 5730 Chatport Road, St. Louis, Missouri), p. 13
  5. ThrillingDetective.com: Chandler
  6. 6.0 6.1 Burchett and Mantels, p. 12
  7. 7.0 7.1 Epstein, Daniel Robert. "The First Graphic Novel? Steranko's Take", Newsarama, July 14, 2003

External links

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