What’s a good-guy private eye to do when he’s tangled up in the blowsy, boozy world of 1950s Hollywood - a place of McCarthyism and anti-communist witch hunts, desperate buxom starlets, washed up hard-drinking screenwriters and… the legendary ‘Ghost Script’, a screenplay that few have ever read but which is rumoured to reveal the real-world conspiracy lurking behind the sinister Hollywood blacklist.
Everyone wants to get their hands on the script, all of them for very different reasons, and they’ve hired well-meaning gumshoe, Archie Goldman, to track it down. But what Archie faces is a labyrinthine plot that’s more noir than anything the movie studios could ever concoct for the silver screen - The Ghost Script is The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep raised by a factor of ten, with a touch of Sunset Boulevard thrown in for good measure. Archie is dangerously out of his depth, and about to discover that not every Hollywood fade-out ends on the hero getting the girl.
Eighty-nine-year-old Jules Feiffer is a comics legend, and The Ghost Script proves that age is just a number when it comes to telling a compelling story. In fact, in the case of The Ghost Script, age is absolutely on Feiffer’s side because it’s obvious that this is a milieu he knows very well (he should do, he was drawing and colouring The Spirit back in the mid-1940s). For that reason, there’s an authenticity to The Ghost Script that gets under the skin and makes it more than just another tale about the black hole widening beneath the city of stars. Feiffer’s skill at juggling noir tropes with real-world Hollywood history is fascinating… he hits every twisted beat, enlists and skewers every stereotype, and employs his trademark drawing style to excellent effect – there’s a fluidity to every character, a subtlety that proves you don’t have to fill in every detail of a face and body to make the subject come alive on the page. Maybe some of the twists and turns are a little too devious but isn’t that a hallmark of every great noir? The Ghost Script plunges us into a universe of violence, paranoia and the shattering of dreams and it’s the atmosphere Feiffer elicits which makes it so special. Divided up into sixty-three tight (often single page) chapters, this is a movie you can hold in your hands… and when you reach the genius last page reveal (no peeking!) you’ll wish the writer/artist might have a sequel in the works.
Unfortunately, that’s unlikely. The Ghost Script is the final volume in his best-selling Kill My Mother trilogy so, even though Feiffer’s reign will hopefully continue for another decade and beyond, let’s not build our hopes up that the final twist will have a pay-off further down the line. Still, you never know. Just look back over his illustrious career and you’ll see that Jules Feiffer is full of surprises…
THE GHOST SCRIPT: A GRAPHIC NOVEL / AUTHOR: JULES FEIFFER / PUBLISHER: LIVERIGHT / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 31ST