Comic Shots #13 with Chris Neseman: Old Grand-Dad 100 Proof Bonded Bourbon and ‘Mr. Murder is Dead’

Each week, the iFanboy “Comic Shots” staff passes along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.

As an outspoken bourbon connoisseur, one of the most common questions I get is “What’s your favorite bourbon?” to which I always reply, “It depends on the situation”. The great thing about bourbon is that there are a variety of proofs and ages that all deliver a different experience. Bourbon by it’s nature is a pretty basic spirit, but one that adheres to a strict process. All bourbon is at least 51% corn, and aged in a new charred oak barrel for a minimum of two years. Beyond that there are a lot of factors that determine how the final product turns out, like water, grain mix, age, location etc. In recent years, the respectability and price range of bourbon has grown by leaps and bounds. No longer the “black sheep” cousin of finer Scotch or Irish whiskeys, bourbons are being recognized as one of the great spirits of the world (as they should be). Bourbon is also the ‘Native Spirit of America’, as decreed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

So back to matching a bourbon to the situation. If I’m at a finer dinning establishment I’ll usually ask for a Bakers, served neat with a single ice cube to chill it. Bakers is a 107 proof bourbon that needs a touch of water to cut it down and help open up it’s personality. If I’m sitting on the back deck and looking for a relaxing summer drink I’ll usually have a Jim Beam (white label) and ginger ale on ice. Ginger Ale is a great mixer with bourbon, especially in the warmer weather months. For those cold Winter nights a Buffalo Trace Hot Toddy does the trick. After a long day at the office there’s nothing I like more  having a Blantons on the rocks or with a splash of water. Basically I’ve found that there’s a bourbon or bourbon based drink for any occasion.

For this comic book pairing I’m picking my favorite “dive bar” bourbon. The bourbon I choose when I just want a shot of whiskey to dull the pain. Old Grand-Dad 100 Proof Bonded Bourbon. For those in the hunt for a good bourbon with some character, but a price tag fitting for a sour mash corn whiskey, Old Grand-Dad is for you. This bourbon doesn’t mess around with fancy labels or pretend to be a top shelf option at the trendy hot spot in town. This is a straight forward drinking man’s whiskey. When I want a shot and a beer, this is the guy. If I were a down on his luck Private Dick that wanted to kill some time and some memories, this is what I would drink. Which brings me to the perfect comics companion to Old Grand-Dad…

Mr. Murder is Dead

Publisher: ARCHAIA
Writer: Victor Quinaz
Artist: Brent Schoonover

Just like a 100 proof whiskey shot, Mr. Murder is Dead makes no apologies and tells you up front what it is. Writer Victor Quinaz and artist Brent Schoonover have created a graphic novel that pays homage to the best Noir styled comics of the last seventy years. Will Eisner, Chester Gould, Bob Kane, Frank Miller and more are all given their due respect in the pages of Mr. Murder is Dead. So straightforward is the homage, that the protagonist is named Gould Kane, better known in his heyday as The Spook. With such an obvious tribute to it’s creative inspirations, Mr. Murder is Dead could have fallen flat without the compelling story and artistic execution contained in its pages. This OGN (Original Graphic Novel) does what all good homage stories should, it makes the reader want to track down or reread the original inspirations, but it also stands on its own.

At its heart, Mr. Murder is Dead  is a mystery with all of the deceit, betrayal and surprise twists of classic Noir. Gould Kane’s arch Nemesis Mr. Murder has resurfaced after years in hiding, albeit for a mere cameo as the story opens almost immediately with his death. With the title of the OGN now explained, it’s up to The Spook to sober up enough to solve the nefarious death of Mr. Murder… or perhaps to cover up his own involvement. What follows during the investigation are a series of flashbacks that brilliantly walk the reader through the golden, silver, bronze and modern ages of comics. These flashbacks develop the characters, unlock clues to the mystery, and visually they allow Schoonover to flex some serious artistic muscle as he jumps through a variety of styles.

The golden age style strips and other classic looking pages can give the reader the impression that this is an all ages book. It’s not. No, Mr. Murder is Dead will make you blush with it’s twisted sexual situations and cringe with its era accurate depictions of racism and sexism. This is a story that shows just how evil and tormented people can be. Gould Kane fits the role of anti-hero as he tracks down the clues that unravel a decades old web of deceit. After reading Mr. Murder is Dead, you’ll either want to track down Dick Tracy strips or order up a Film-Noir like A Touch of Evil. Or maybe both!

Brent Schoonover was born to draw the Dick Tracy newspaper strip. The interior cover pages contain a fantastic Rouges Gallery for The Spook that could have appeared in any Dick Tracy story. Characters like I.C. Nobody, Hal I. Tosis, First Edition Frankie & Tom A. Hawk D.A. tease the reader with faux history that captures the spirit of the Chester Gould strips. But just like the story, the art of Mr. Murder is Dead stands on it’s own and doesn’t rely solely on its inspirations. While he’s paying tribute to comics of days gone past, it’s clear that Schoonover has his own style(s). Previous works including Horrorwood and Astronaut Dad showed the same clean cartooning style and visual storytelling that we find in here, but not with this type of polish. The flashback scenes may be the initial draw for the book, but make no mistake that Schoonover leaves his mark as an artist with a style all his own.

As a final note, Mr. Murder is Dead is a stunningly beautiful book. Rarely do the writing, art and production value of a graphic novel hit so perfectly on every level. ARCHAIA is developing a reputation for delivering some of the most well produced graphic novels on the market. From the embossed hard cover to the paper stock, the attention to detail and quality is outstanding. As an Art Director and print buyer, I’ll spare you the nerdy printing babble and just say its REALLY well produced. So much so that when I fist held the book I was a little afraid to turn it over and see the price tag. Imagine my delight when I saw a very reasonable $19.95 on the back cover. In an age where $30+ “premier” hardcovers aren’t that premier, this feels like a steal. Especially when you find out that the story and art inside Mr. Murder is Dead deliver the goods as well as any graphic novel in 2011.

So take my advice and sit down with a shot (or two) of one of my favorite bourbons, and crack open this tale of deceit, crime and betrayal that would drive a man to drink… more.

Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics Podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.
Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy only the amount of comics that you can until your wife or significant other threatens to throw things away.


  1. YAY! I’ve missed this column

  2. Nice review. I’m going to check out the book!

  3. After reading this, I want to get to the liquor store and sip some bourbon. Which is so tempting right now.

  4. The book sounds great and I love books that are printed in a different size than other comics. I’ll scoop this up sometime soon.

  5. Guess who’s back, back again….Neseman’s back tell a friend!! My Bourbon of choice is Bookers, Love that stuff. And I so need to get this book. It looks great!!

  6. I do love the bourbon. Nice one, Chris! You had me at Blanton’s.

  7. I already planned on getting this, but it’s getting bumped up on the schedule because of this article. My Saturday afternoon is now on lock for some Ol’ Grand Dad and readin.

  8. What a great combination!

    Chris: As a listener to the EOC podcast, it is because of you that I was turned on to the old grand-dad and ginger ale, as well as Mr. Murder is Dead. You’re article has very firmly put me in the mood to drink some old grand-dad and read this delightful graphic novel tonight!

    also…Is this column going to be a regular thing?

  9. A sentimental favorite as Old-Grandad was my late grandfather’s signature drink.

  10. To really round out the experience, one should listen to ‘jazz noir’ styled music.