My local comic shop received this last week although everyone seems to be listing today as its release date.  I’ve been waiting all year for Tardi’s Like A Sniper Lining Up His Shot.

Martin Terrier, ice-cold mercenary-turned-contract-killer, has his future all mapped out: He has just executed what he intends to be his final job and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life, which involves discreet retirement accompanied by a long-lost girlfriend. But Terrier’s employers are emphatically not pleased with his decision, old enemies begin to re-emerge, and soon Terrier is forced to once again ply his brutal trade.

  • Author: Jacques Tardi; adapted from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 104
  • Dimensions: 7.5″ x 10.75″
  • Colors: black & white
  • Year: 2011
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-60699-448-1
  • Price: $18.99
  • Additional Details: Edited and translated by Kim Thompson
Jacques Tardi’s second Jean-Patrick Manchette adaptation and much better than West Coast BluesLike A Sniper Lining Up His Shot gives the reader a unique and highly enjoyable tale. This book has a distinct 1970s groove to it, hearkening back to those classic crime films of that era: direct, stripped down, nothing but the action.
     
Our protagonist Martin Terrier doesn’t waste any words or energy, single and possibly simple-minded in his task. We start off right away with his killing, professionalism and desire to retire.  I immediately began to dread the next pages, concerned it was a story I’d seen over and over about the killer with a conscience who wants to get out but they keep dragging him back in.  Instead we’re taken to events and places I would never have predicted, full on violence along the way.
     
It’s the odd bits that set Like A Sniper Lining Up His Shot apart from any other crime story.  Terrier isn’t a criminal mastermind: he follows orders and keeps to himself.  He has very odd ideas about relationships and lost loves that direct a fair bit of the story.  The staccato dialogue of his world gets clouded with the “citizens” or ordinary people in his life.  Terrier’s the straight man to the colourful cast of full developed or one-dimensional characters we’re treated to.  No happy endings here, but not in the way you’d expect: over and over again we’ve given a very different take on the lone assassin story.
     
Visually it’s full-on Tardi: soft and rounded characters, few expressions and wonderful backgrounds.  I love it. Enjoy the first six pages above, lifted from the publisher’s ten page preview.  Editor and translator Kim Thomson has a nice article about this title, which is worth checking out as the book has no extras.  Wait for the last panel to get the title.  For $19 it’s a solid value and an excellent read: I can’t remember the last time I wanted to forgo leaving the house so I could finish something, but Like A Sniper Lining Up His Shot had me the whole time.
One critique: the paper smells.  Weird, slightly off-putting odor.  Of course there’s a slight chance not everyone opens a new hardcover and takes a big whiff.