In a World … of Desperate Publishers … One Gimmick Stands Alone

Photo: Courtesy of First Second

So far, online trailers for books (and there are more every day) have self-consciously avoided aspiring to the style and flash of movie ads. That is … until now … in a world … dominated by irony … one author (Eddie Campbell) … and one tiny publisher (First Second Books) … have made a trailer for a graphic novel so earnest, so explosive, and so, uh, graphic that, well, maybe a few people will notice it.

Does that sound portentous, clichéd, begging for the deepest, darkest Hollywood voice-over? Now you've got a sense of what it's like to watch this 30-second spot for The Black Diamond Detective Agency, by Campbell, the co-creator of the comic-turned-movie From Hell.

First reported by Galleycat last week, it's a gory piece of work, beautifully done, that never overanimates Campbell's gory sketches: just a quick bullet or splash of red blood amidst a black-and-white montage. Not surprisingly, the comic itself comes out of an undeveloped screenplay (nineteenth-century locomotive disaster, investigator framed for the crime), and there's word of a possible movie adaptation. Galleycat, like an excited fanboy, raved about the spot, but do we really have to endure sloppy voice-over lines like this? "At the dawn of a new millennium, it was a time of anarchy and lawlessness. It was a world on the brink of the future." (When is the world not on the brink of the future?) For now, some book trailers are clever, others are well-targeted, and this one, at least, has a hell of a bloody hook. Maybe one day we'll get all three. —Boris Kachka

Trailer for Eddie Campbell's The Black Diamond Detective Agency [QuickTime movie]