It Rhymes With Lust By Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller, & Matt Baker

Categories:  Reviews

It Rhymes With Lust
By Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller, and Matt Baker
Darkhorse Press

Arnold DrakeRust is the answer to that most obvious of questions. Rust Masson. The moral, if there’s any to be had, is, simply put: don’t go around messing with women named whose names rhyme with lust. It’s a lesson that takes newspaperman Hal Weber 120-odd pages to sufficiently discover, but by the close of this early graphic novel prototype (a ‘picture novel,’ if the cover is to be believed), the point seems to have been fairly well driven home.

Dark Horse, bless their hearts, have gone and resurrected this nearly 60-year-old masterpiece of melodrama, whose intense, if oft over-the-top borderline gothic romantic plotline seems as much an inspiration for a contemporary romance novels as it is for the graphic novel.

The book opens as Weber is summoned to Copper City, upon the death of millionaire mine owner, Arthur “Buck” Masson, by his old flame, who, as it turns out, is Buck’s recent widow. Rust sets Webber up as the editor of the staunchly anti-Masson paper, The Copper City Express, further cementing her control of the town. Over the course of the book, murder, sex, intrigue, betrayal, and men in aprons all become par for the course.

Arnold Drake and Leslie Walker’s hyperbolic plot twists, couple with Matt Baker’s accomplished, if, in hindsight Mary Worth-esque artwork will likely prove a bit tough sell for the majority of modern day readers. Like so many projects initially conceived ahead of their time, It Rhymes With Lust now seems more than a bit clichéd, and even for those who can appreciate it on the ground of historical value, the book’s plotline still runs a strong risk of coming off as slow, after decades worth of increasingly graphic work in the genre have made strong moves to out-grit their previous incarnations.

Taken in a contemporary context, It Rhymes With Lust doesn’t seem to have held up very well, but let’s face it, the book was intended as pulp, and as such wasn’t built to last. It’s both as pulp and a picture perfect representation of an important moment in American storytelling that this reissue truly has value.

Dark Horse made the very conscious decision to restore the book as it was, rather than as some hardbound historical edition, meant for library shelves. The exterior of the book, aside from the publisher’s logo, the higher-grade paper, and the more contemporary price tag, could pass for the real thing. Passed between a few sets of hands, and carried around in a couple of back pockets, and this reissue of It Rhymes With Lust will sit comfortably amongst copies of its tattered pulp contemporaries, which is truly the way the book ought to be enjoyed.

The inside is also pretty faithful, though the additions of an afterward by Drake, exploring the history of the graphic novel, and a few pages worth of creator bios are welcome. Another few pages really driving home the ways in which It Rhymes with Lust fit into that history would have been a nice addition, as well.

It Rhymes With Lust should be taken as a celebration of the height of low art, and a fitting memorial to Drake, who sadly passed away, early this month.

–Brian Heater

No Comments to “It Rhymes With Lust By Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller, & Matt Baker”

  1. Jahfurry | March 30th, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Wow. Another I need to grab asap. Just picked up Doom Patrol Archives #3 in honor of Drake’s passing. G’Damm those DP books are B’Dass. What a consistently quirky compelling vibe he and artist Premiani set…

  2. Elizabeth Waller | April 4th, 2007 at 9:38 am

    I am the daughter of Leslie Waller, co-author of “It Rhymes with Lust” with Arnie Drake. In an ironic, and sad coincidence, my dad died on March 29th, just about two weeks after Arnie. The release of this great old book is a wonderful memorial for both of these guys. Many thanks to Dark Horse and to the fans of “It Rhymes with Lust”.

  3. Elizabeth Waller | April 5th, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Brian Heater asked me to add a comment or two about my dad, in light of his recent passing. “It Rhymes with Lust” was written before I was born, so I haven’t any memories of it’s inception, but dad was writing for some time before it came out. He and Arnie cut their writing chops in the publicity department of the old Army Air Corps, when they served stateside in WWII. Dad always implied it was the Intelligence division, but … who knows? After the war, both men continued to write, but my parents moved to New York City from Chicago, and dad and Arnie’s friendship was confined to Christmas cards and occasional phone calls. Dad went on to write more than 54 books, novels and nonfiction, including the novelization for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, with Spielberg, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Hide in Plain
    Sight”. He continued to write even after he turned 80, becoming the editor of the Naples Literary Review, Naples FL, where he and Bob Ludlum enjoyed knocking back a scotch or three together as they watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Dad will be sorely missed by a lot of people. He is survived by my sister Susan and me, our respective husbands and daughters, as well as dad’s second wife, Pat. I was with my father until about an hour before his passing. I can tell you that he died peacefully in his sleep.

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