The Age of Innocence is a collection of Alack Sinner stories from artist José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo. The stories take place from the early seventies through the early eighties; Muñoz and Sampayo arranged them in chronological order of story content (versus creation order). Published through IDW’s Euro Comics imprint, Age of Innocence is the first of two Alack Sinner volumes. I highly recommend it.
The following are my notes from reading Age of Innocence. I had hoped to write a longer piece about the collection, but I can’t do it justice right now. So, the notes instead.
Talkin’ with Joe
Present storyline: cinematic, slow present action, low dialogue.
Flashback: summary, some of the same visual pacing for scenes, but with dialogue (even if dialogue isn't important--it's being narrated after all).
Also: the ordering of drinks in the narration, bringing it ever present.
The Webster Case
Real first story? Art is a lot tighter, Alack has less personality, supporting cast has more. Goes from investigative detective to detective thriller. Old lady knitting panel forecasts her impact, knitting needle forecasts the solution.
The Fillmore Case
The social aspect. "The mystery." Sinner muscling his way through the case--with The Big Sleep forecasting. The artist's attention to detail; presenting the facts whether or not the reader takes the time for them.
Most ambitious because it's not a detective story, it's the story of a detective. Supporting cast is different; Alack's loneliness is also a big thing. Story itself is big enough for a novel, especially those panels juxtaposing intellectual debate with the harsh NYC realities.
Life Ain’t a Comic Book, Baby
The comic creators visit, providing meta and supporting cast. Someone for Alack to talk with. There's also the exterior street cutaways during conversation and how they do or do not relate. And it's another conspiracy mystery.
In His Infinite Wisdom
Story is shorter. Moves faster too. Alack doesn't have his own character arc, it's all about the case. Some of the same art devices--exteriors for example--but without corresponding narrative impact. The tense if a little different too. Past tense from long after the case is resolved.
Dick Tracy cameo. Girl getting naked. Back to Alack as a protagonist--Christmas and all, with character development. The case has lots of twists and turns, but there's not reflection on those, just Alack's existence.
Constancio and Manolo
No case, no character arc for Alack. Story of his neighbors set against presidential campaign; the boxer has his boxing story, the grandfather has his war flashback story. The use of grandpa's thoughts and the establishing panels stand out.
Post-PI, now driving a cab. No case, just getting involved with people and trouble and romance. Different visual style too. Less exposition compensation. Travis Bickle cameo.
Alack gets fish, runs into ex-wife, gets drunk, flushes fish. No present action detecting, just flashback. Lots of backstory on Alack.
Everything gets tied together. Alack has a daughter, but nothing gets resolved. He's not a detective, he just exists. Mostly a postscript to the comic's events, starting with the trip to visit his father. It's a lengthy present action, at least a month. Alack's actually less functional not being a PI. Frank Sinatra cameo. Kind of a novella sequel to the rest of the comic.