What the Heck Is Comic Noir?

I’ve written a comic noir book. What the heck is comic noir? Well, noir has been with us for a long time, and when we have a long standing trope it becomes acceptable to make fun of it. Some imagery is so deeply ingrained into society we can instantly associate with it. The lone detective, broken and bitter, against a sea of evil deeds. Tough talking women with a liberal sense of lipstick. It boomed in the 1940s, based on the classics from the 1920s, and now we can make fun of it.

What’s so good about noir? Everyone and everything is broken. It’s the worst of everything, and nothing is going to get better. But in the midst of all the moral squalor and self-serving agendas there is someone, one person, who carries a seed of hope, the self-destructive antihero who rises above all and succeeds in the face of overwhelming odds. And when your story is sinking in the mire, you can really dig your hands in deep and squelch the depravity in between your fingers. These days most noir is linked with hardboiled where the antihero is a detective, usually set in the prohibition era in the United States where the government or police are no less corrupt than the criminals.

That doesn’t sound very funny. Why is it funny?

The dialog is rich in innuendo and tough talk. The narrative is colourful and often in stark contrast to the imagery which is bleak and monochromatic. Carl Reiner’s 1982 comedy-mystery film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, starring Steve Martin and Rachel Ward, is both a parody of, and an homage to, film noir and the pulp detective movies of the 1940s. It is a perfect example of where you can go with comic noir, and this is what I tried to capture with Sucker. It is a wonderful place for a writer to inhabit.