Words an’ Pictures: Ce Qui est Arrivé Avant – A Review of “West Coast Blues”

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“And that which has happened before is happening again: George GERFAUT is cruising the outer lanes of the beltway that encircles Paris.”

So begins West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi’s adaptation of the 1976 novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette. At its core, West Coast Blues is a tense thriller that features the gritty style that readers of Tardi would expect, but what gives this adaptation staying power is its ability to present heavy postmodern themes as casually and effectively as it presents its brutal violence.

West Coast Blues follows the story of George Gerfaut, a young Parisian sales executive who is dissatisfied with the world that he finds himself in. He has a wife and child, but spends his time driving around Paris at dangerously high speeds, drinking Four Roses bourbon with his barbiturates and listening to American West Coast-style jazz music on the tape deck of his Mercedes. While on an inane family vacation to the beach, he is attacked by two hit men, prompting a violent escape from his buttoned-down, comfortable life.

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