This town is still bleeding. Did you expect them to thank you for ripping off the bandage?
On Saturday, November 15, 1959, Dick Hickocks and Perry Smith entered a Kansas farmhouse and brutally murdered four people whom they’d never met. Truman Capote spent the next six years investigating the story and produced In Cold Blood, the original true crime novel.
Capote in Kansas deals with the crime peripherally; instead, it tells a fictionalized version of Capote’s years of research and writing. In Parks and Samnee’s version, the ghost of one of the victims assists the author.
Title: Capote in Kansas
Writer: Ande Parks
Artists: Chris Samnee
First Published: July 2005
Eccentric author Truman Capote heads to Kansas to write about a notorious killing. He is helped by his assistant, Harper Lee, and the ghost of murder victim Nancy Clutter.
The story features several well-drawn, often wordless panels that capture the key moments.
I’m picking nits here, but “A Drawn Novel???” “Graphic Novel” already sounds pretentious, but it has become the term of choice. Or, if neither “Graphic Novel” nor “Comic Book” works for so serious a work of literature, why bother with any sort of subtitle? People will figure out that this particular “novel” has been “drawn” when they purchase it at a comic shop and open it up and see drawings.
Originality: 3/6. It’s a novel approach to an existing story.
Artwork: 5/6 Chris Samnee’s black and white artwork captures the mood of the characters and the moments quite well.
Story: 4/6. The story makes more sense if you’ve read In Cold Blood, but it also pales beside that novel. Characters come and go. Harper Lee—author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Capote’s assistant in real life—disappears once the ghost of Nancy Clutter appears.
Characterization: 4/6 Good, but inconsistent. Capote in Kansas does a fair job of depicting its protagonist’s transformation, as he gradually wins the trust of those involved with the case. The author is less successful capturing the full complexity of Capote’s personality.
Emotional response: 4/6 .
In total, Capote in Kansas receives a score of 30/42.
My review of Capote’s In Cold Blood appears here.