Book Name: The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans
Publisher: NBM Comic Lit
Writer: Rick Geary
Artist: Rick Geary
Release Date: 2010
It is 1918, and horror is stalking the streets of New Orleans. Someone is breaking into homes and attacking people with an axe. The attacker is killing and sometimes crippling his victims, but none of the victims can identify the axe-wielding assassin. As the killer reaches out to the papers, panic ensues when the Axe-Man demands jazz be played in the homes…will the killer be caught and will the murders end?
Written and illustrated by Rick Geary, The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans is part of the A Treasury of XXth Century Murder series. The non-fiction comic presents real events that occurred along with a background of New Orleans.
I (like many) hadn’t heard the story of the Axe-Man until American Horror Story: Coven which told his story and made him a major player. I had heard many stories in American Horror Story’s New Orleans lexicon, but this one had slipped through the cracks…which is odd since America is so fascinated with serial killers.
What is odd about the killer is that he took a Jack the Ripper approach (or at least someone impersonating the killer did). He reached out to the papers and demanded that the people of New Orleans play jazz on October 19, 1919 and those who did would be safe from his axe. New Orleans took it in stride however and made the night a party…which is in tune with the city.
I like that book does give background on New Orleans, how it was founded, and is musical roots. This is necessary to understanding the story and the background of the people living at the time. It is quick and easy to read. Geary is forced to gloss over some historical events, but he gets the general idea out in a means to tell the real story he’s trying to tell.
The art likewise is fun. I like that it has a very classic feel to it. It is black-and-white and reminds me a bit of Persepolis (but not as finally tuned or stylized). The story has an almost kid-like approach and art that is a great contrast to the horrors of the story.
The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans is a fun quick read and does make me want to seek out a few other volumes in the series. Like many unsolved mysteries, it could be a little frustrating to readers not to have an answer to the killer’s identity (or killers since it is very likely that there were some copycats involved). It is still a crazy story and well worth investigating…and a rich town like New Orleans just adds to the atmosphere.
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