Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On a favorite internet radio show of mine, the host often asks the guest about their definition of noir. He gets a range of answers. Well here is mine.

Noir means no innocent victims. A good example this would be a scene in the movie City Of Industry where there is a shoot out in a trailer park between two groups of heavies. During this gun battle the residents of the trailer park come out of their homes with shotguns and join the bullet fest; again, no innocent victims.

 In a lot of movies directors like to imply that a character has a dark side with their use of lighting and shadows. I particularly like shots where one side of the character's face is in the dark and the other is in the light. Very symbolic of one's complex nature which incorporates elements of good and evil. I also like scenes that depict violence taking place in dark alleys where punches an kicks come from all directions and it is unclear who is doing the beating.

If you want an example of noir depicted in the art world check out the work of Edward Hopper. His most noirish painting is Night Hawks which depicts a late night scene at a diner. In this picture we are not sure who these people are, whether they know each other, or if they are connected at all. Through the window outside, we see a menacing city smudged by an inky black night. One that will gobble up the characters the minute they walk out the door.

The work of Mickey Spillane is commonly characterized as noir. I think that is stretching it a little in that Mike Hammer is truly a good guy, even though he is very brutal. He always has a clear sense of what is right and wrong. Also, even though the police in Hammer stories may not be the most sympathetic people,  they are always sincerly trying to solve whatever crime comes across their desk.

My beloved clown PI Huey Dusk started out somewhat noirish. Originally, I wasn't sure whether or not he was going to be a killer clown. But, as time has gone on, I have put him in the camp of the good guys, even though he has a somewhat tarnished heart of gold.

I love noir stories and could talk about them all day. However, what I don't do is apply it as a formula to everyday life. I am a firm believer in the goodness of people and do my best to see the light in every situation. If you don't do that you miss out on the happiness in life.

Hopefully I have illustrated this in my latest Huey Dusk story, Bullets For Coffins in which I have added a lot more clowns and gooofiness.

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