“Skin Trade” is a graphic novel adapted from a short story by George R. R. Martin.
Willie Flambeaux is an asthmatic repo man, a nice guy, and also a werewolf. When a friend of his is killed and appears to have been mangled by an animal, Willie asks another friend, P. I. Randi Wade, for help. Randi’s father was a policeman, and died under similar mysterious circumstances. Together, Randi and Willie seek answers and search for the killer, and in the process uncover dangerous secrets.
At 104 pages long, Skin Trade is brief enough to read in one sitting yet long enough to tell a detailed and complete story. The reader is dropped into the tale in media res. The action is well under way, and the world and characters come into being fully formed.
The characters are complex, and the story pays respect to the old folklore staples (silver bullets, etc) while still achieving a high level of originality.
The art, by the ironically named Mike Wolfer, is top quality. It captures the gothic / noir atmosphere of the setting and brings the action to life with bold lines and violent color.
I would place this graphic novel in the same category as Stephen King’s “Silver Bullet,” and the classically campy “Howling” films.
I enjoyed reading this graphic novel, although I would not place it in my list of all time favorites. It was entertaining, but not particularly exceptional.
It took a while to become acquainted with the characters and the setting, and felt a bit like watching a mid-season episode of an established TV series – you can kind of catch on and get a sense of who’s who and what’s what, but you don’t have the same invested understanding as someone who has watched the show from the beginning. For a short, stand-alone story this can be a drawback, especially for readers who are not already inclined to like the story based on its author or subject.
I would recommend this title to fans of werewolf stories (especially the aforementioned “Silver Bullet” and “The Howling”), and to fans of horror graphic literature.
Contains nudity and graphic violence.
- Story: 3/5
- Art: 4/5
- Title: Skin Trade
- Author: George R. R. Martin; Daniel Abraham
- Artist: Mike Wolfer
- Publisher: Avatar Press, July 2014
- Length: 104 pages
- Description: 6.5 x 0.4 x 9.9 inches; color illustrations