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Review: Head Games

Out of all the writers I have read since I was a kid, there were a few, who blended their personal history with the characters in their books. I guess this is where the term “poetic license” was in its best usage. One of the first ones I came across is, Robert Beck, or as some people now him as, Iceberg Slim. His books, felt like this beautiful fusion of crime noir and allegory, that once you read a page, you wanted to read more, as it felt so effortless.

The way he described characters and even settings made you feel as though they were real, and they were not purely pulled form his imagination, but a caricature of a real person. Another writer, that made you feel like he was giving first person accounts, was Ernest Hemingway. One of his most visceral books, which has been adapted into a movie, is Old Man and The Sea, a stirring tale of a character very much resembling the writer amidst an incredible conflict.  When I heard about Craig McDonald’s Head Games, it very much reminded me of both wordsmiths, in speculation and the spirit of the eternal adventurer.

We are brought to the year of 1957 and are introduced to Hector Lassiter, who with friend, Bud Fiske, are being sold the skull of Poncho Villa, by a mercenary, Bill Wade, that is until the Mexican Army gets involved, a standoff takes place.  Bill gets killed and two men, searching for clues of where Bill has hidden the skull, scouring his notebook, they eventually gain another partner in crime, a starlet, Alicia Vicente, as the skull has many suitors, some from the Mexican revolution, who are still alive. Soon it becomes a race to the death, as they must travel southwest to where the highest bidder resides, but a gallery of shady characters, do their best to take the skull away from the trio.  By book’s end, a final faceoff , occurs, one that leaves the reader wondering who will get out of this in one piece.

Overall, it feels like those old pulp novels that Robert Parker and Dashiell Hamlett used to write, a time capsule of very different men and women. The story by McDonald is engaging, romantic and fearless. The art by Kevin Singles and Les McClaine is stunning. Altogether, a fun pulp graphic novel that romanticizes the characters and the time.

Story: Craig McDonald Art: Kevin Singles and Les McClaine
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy