Last Fair Deal Gone Down by Ace Atkins and Marco Finnegan
12-Gauge Comics (May 2016)
Nick Travers’ musician friend Fats is dead, and his saxophone—a vintage 1940s beauty—is missing. Determined to honor the memory of his late friend the only way he knows how, Travers sets out through the rain-soaked streets of New Orleans to recover the sax.
The plot of Last Fair Deal Gone Down, adapted from the short story of the same name by Ace Atkins, doesn’t get much more complicated than that, leaving Atkins and artist Marco Finnegan plenty of room to revel in the seedy Crescent City atmosphere. Finnegan is a great match for the material, using evocative black-and-white artwork to highlight Atkins’ boozy, melancholy New Orleans detective story. Finnegan favors big panels and splash pages, often hiding the backgrounds in deep shadows or eliminating them altogether to highlight the characters. He saves his most detailed work for the faces of said characters: you can see the stress and heartache only a New Orleans detective could know etched in Travers’ face; Fats displays a musician’s mix of joy and world-weariness on his mug; while Travers’ beautiful neighbor is a fresh-faced, smiling oddity in this world of grit and grime. The story itself is a straightforward affair with a wicked late-inning twist to keep things interesting.
“Last Fair Deal Gone Down” remains the last piece of Travers material Atkins has published, preceded early in his career by a series of novels (Crossroad Blues, Leavin’ Trunk Blues, Dark End of the Street and Dirty South). Publisher 12-Gauge Comics has slyly subtitled Last Fair Deal Gone Down as Nick Travers: Volume 1, leaving the door open for adaptations of those novels and/or new material if Atkins is inspired. Nick Travers is definitely a character I’d love to see a more seasoned Atkins return to, and this first volume proves he’s found the right artist in Finnegan (and the right publisher in 12-Gauge) to join along in the fun.