Review: Kill My Mother

Details: Feiffer, J. (2014). Kill My Mother. New York, NY: Liveright.

Keywords: 1920s, graphic novel, noir

Review: I had prepared myself to love this graphic novel. I have a longstanding love affair with both mysteries and the noir genre. I took a noir literature course in college and fell in love with Hammett, Cain, and Chandler. Since then, I love a story with good patter, dark deeds, and a protagonist rife with existential angst and who teems with suppressed emotion, seeking purpose in this seemingly empty life….

Anyways, back to this graphic novel: Kill My Mother has an edgy title and a pale blue-gray-white-black color palette — all of which promise noir glory. The premise features primarily a group of women: a widow who lost her cop husband to an unsolved homicide; a daughter who hates her widowed mother; a strange, tall and blonde woman in the alley; and a host of supporting male characters (including the [necessary] verbally abusive, drunk detective). The art is unique and very apropos: The squiggly linework that depicts both character and scene creates a surreal atmosphere that lends itself to a story that features abuse, severe mental health issues, and murder.

But overall? The art, the color choices, and the story just didn’t grab me. If any character stirred me, it was the daughter — a loathesome character with an irrational hatred to her mother that was then too easily resolved at the end. Underwhelmed, I finished the graphic novel with a sense of ‘Meh.’ Jules Feiffer, the artist-author, is an award winner several times over for his work in comics, particularly political cartoons. With such a robust body of work, perhaps in the future I’ll find something else of his that I’ll enjoy. However, Kill My Mother was not my cup of tea.

Excitement Level: Meh.