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Tumor Chapter 1

November 15th, 2010

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Book Overview:

Frank Armstrong has an inoperable brain tumor that’s killing him. In his final days, with his body, senses, and mind failing him, he’s going to do the one thing that he’s never been able to do before… save the girl. TUMOR is a dark Los Angeles noir from the Harvey Award nominated creators of the critically acclaimed ELK’S RUN.

Book Review

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
Comic Books Frank Armstrong has an inoperable brain tumor that’s killing him. In his final days, with his body, senses, and mind failing him, he’s going to do the one thing that he’s never been able to do before… save the girl. TUMOR is a dark Los Angeles noir from the Harvey Award nominated creators of the critically acclaimed ELK’S RUN.
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  1. Renaye Marie
    November 18th, 2010 at 09:18 | #1


    I’m not normally a graphic novel reader but I wanted to give them a try after thumbing through a couple at my local bookstore. This one was free so I gave it a shot. First, the pictures look like basic sketches which aren’t that bad in my opinion. I’m not an artist so they did a LOT better than I could ever do. Second, the protagonist has a brain tumor (hence the title) that causes the story to change from the past to present without warning. That was pretty confusing. Third, there is a lot of cursing in this book so if you are sensitive, I wouldn’t recommend it. Other than that, the novel is okay. If you are unsure, I suggest trying this free chapter first before you commit to buying any others.

  2. Glen C. Creason
    November 18th, 2010 at 11:04 | #2


    Dark and deliciously gritty, chapter one of Tumor introduces us to the strangely sympathetic sinking ship of Frank Armstong, one-time ace detective. Frank is beyond world weary and seems to only ask to be put out of his misery except for a last mission he accepts to find a missing girl between blackouts, flashbacks and hallucinations brought on by “the tumor”. The plot unfolds cleverly from two angles at once and propels the reader toward an unpredictable denoument.

    Fialkov, a terrific storyteller has a way with brisk, brutally straightforward dialogue and Noel Tuozan creates the dark mood that makes the words throb on the page. While Armstong is certainly ready for the wrecking yard he still has a code of honor hidden wiithin the wreck of a shell of a man inside his gabardine suit. I really can’t wait to see just how badly this all turns out.

  3. Sarah E. Portwood
    November 19th, 2010 at 01:38 | #3


    This was the first comic I viewed on my new Kindle 2–I chose it because it was free. The comic is great. I was worried about it being formatted for the larger DX, but once I found out you could zoom in using the 5-way controller, it became quite comfortable to read.

  4. David Ivey
    November 19th, 2010 at 09:44 | #4


    I read the first chapter of this graphic novel because it was free, but I’ve bought the other chapters and their previous graphic novel, Elk’s Run, because this chapter was so good.

    William Faulkner’s novel, The Sound and the Fury, had part of the story told from the point of view of Benjy Compson. What made the story unique was that Benjy was developmentally disabled and didn’t process time like normal people. What happened to him as a kid and what happened to him as an adult where all jumbled together. J.H. Fialkov, the author of Tumor, does something similar with his novel.

    The main character in Tumor is Frank Armstong, a hard-nosed ex-detective that takes a job from a mob boss to find the mob boss’s daughter. Unfortunately for Frank, he has a tumor that is affecting the way he processes time. Like with Faulkner’s Benjy, time doesn’t run in a straight line. This makes for a far more interesting story than just having a detective track down a girl.

    Fialkov’s ability to develop characters and set a mood within the limits of a graphic novel are exceptional. A traditional author can go on for pages and pages with dialog and stream of consciousness (inner dialog) to develop a story, but Fialkov must do so within the limited space of a comic image. The fact that within a few pages of graphic images he can develop a character with the complexities of someone like Faulkner’s Benjy is simply amazing.

    The art work reminds me of a movie directors storyboard. In other words, it’s like looking at still images from film. For example, a panel where you see someone’s shoulder and the back of their head in silhouette, and where the rest of the scene is not in silhouette. Close-ups, middleshots, longshots, etc., are used throughout the novel to tell the story. I suppose most graphic novels do this to some extent, but Noel Tuazon, the artist, is really good at it. The images all have a sketch like feel, that rely on shapes and shadows as opposed to meticulously drawn out lines, but this sketchy type style adds to the grittyness and film noir feel of the novel. Noel is also very good at conveying the emotions of the characters.

    J.H. Fialkov and N. Tuazon have produced an outstanding graphic novel that is like no other that I’ve ever read.

  5. Victoria Lugo
    November 19th, 2010 at 16:25 | #5


    It’s alright. not too special. the images are more like rough sketches. some lines were a little too repetitive. but i did find it amusing. it’s not very long.

    if your the kind of person that doesn’t like randomly inserted flashbacks, then this will irk you; personally, i found it was an element that was pulled off pretty smoothly.

  6. Marc Dell Angelo
    November 20th, 2010 at 22:21 | #6


    I’m sorry but this was just poor. Couldn’t get through the dialog, especially during the hospital-car scenes, due to the very loose drawing. Those type of renderings work for storyboards done on demand but not in graphic storytelling.

    And, as said before, the gratuitous language is distracting. I still have strong hope for the kindle as a medium for comics, though.

  7. Jason E. Palmer
    November 21st, 2010 at 02:51 | #7


    Reads well on the kindle but you need to buy this in Hardcover and read it! Josh Hale Fialkov is a great writer. In fact, just buy all his books!!

  8. Brian Clarke
    November 22nd, 2010 at 22:47 | #8


    You know how someone will highly recommend you something that turns out to be awful or just mediocre and forever after you take their recommendations with a grain of salt? For me, that’s “Tumor,” a comic that had been recommended to me by a couple of people whose opinions I once trusted who I’ll now look at cross-eyed.

    If you’ve never read another crime comic or seen a crime film, “Tumor” might be the comic for you, just like “The Boondock Saints.” You’ll marvel as the protagonist tries to solve one last case as his perception becomes unreliable, but then one day somebody will show you “Memento” just like you hope somebody would show a “Saints” fan “Pulp Fiction” or even “Full Contact” and they’d realize what they’ve been marveling at is actually a piss-poor imitation of something great that it’s ripping off. It’s not that “Tumor” is so terrible, it’s that the exact same story has just been done so much better so many other times.

    What’s always a dead giveaway for me is the dialogue. Whereas Quentin Tarantino or Raymond Chandler have as much fun with the words their characters say as they do the story, the lines here are as pedestrian as something you’d find in a recent Val Kilmer DTV title (in fact, there are many lines in “Tumor” that may seem familiar if only because you’ve heard them repeated in so many bad cop shows and telemovies throughout the nineties). The characters all speak in the same voice and it’s flat and perfunctory. “Boondock Saints” falls into that same category as the look of the protagonists is quite cool from the second you see it, but the moment they open their mouths, they reveal their idiocy and the movie loses most normal, thoughtful audience members.

    Ignoring “Boondock Saints,” let’s compare apples to apples. Take Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos’s comic, “Filthy Rich.” Like “Tumor,” it’s a crime noir, it’s black-and-white, it’s manga-sized and the main character has a dark past that’s revealed across the main plot involving a troublesome dame who the main guy is tasked with protecting. It’s a familiar trope, but with every line and every twist and every character, Azzarello brings something new to the story because he’s that kind of author. In “Tumor,” Fialkov and Tuazon appear content to have the high concept do all the work for them. If you find it hard to be dazzled by the idea that a man with a tumor is having a hard time with his perception as this story happens around him, then this is a hard book to recommend. It’s an interesting set-up followed by seven chapters of painfully boring and clumsily-revealed exposition that drums out any good feeling you had towards that concept by the time you reach the end. You know this by the time you get to Chapters 4 and 5 when still, nothing has happened.

    It’s too bad because for this to be the first comic “created for the Kindle,” you’d hope that would be something that would open the floodgates for more content with a bang, instead of a whimper. If this is the best we can hope for, then I’ll think twice before downloading another creator-owned book.

  9. R. Baltrush
    November 23rd, 2010 at 23:53 | #9


    This is a graphic novel, a somewhat underutilized medium of storytelling on the Kindle. It seems like the DX would be a perfect fit for such a book, and it is. The art style of the book is very well done and conveys exactly the right mood for the story. At times I did wish that the art strokes were a little darker, but it was not bad enough that couldn’t make out the panel. Also, the story uses an interesting mechanic that is intentionally disorients the reader from the timeline. It fits in perfectly with the story and is a plus.

    On the downside, I don’t think that you can go through more than a panel or two without a curse word. The frequency is gratuitous and, I felt, unnecessary. You can convey a gritty atmosphere without dropping the F bomb in every other panel. That is this book’s only weakness, but it is a glaring one. It became a huge distraction for me. I don’t care about cursing in my books or graphic novels if needed, but the frequency put me off entirely.

    I may try to second chapter of the series, but unless the cursing is reduced, that will be it for me.

  10. Gregory Matiasevich
    November 24th, 2010 at 11:36 | #10


    Full disclosure: I know Josh and have worked with him on WESTERN TALES OF TERROR, so that might make me a little biased. But I can count how long I’ve been a comic reader in decades, so I think that gives me a solid idea of what makes a good comic. And TUMOR is shaping up to be a great comic.

    Right off the bat, we’re introduced to Frank Armstrong, LA private investigator carrying around the title character in his noggin. He’s one bad headache away from the grave when he gets asked to find a mobster’s missing daughter. And not only could he drop dead at any moment, but the time he’s got left on this earth is broken up by tumor-induced spasms and hallucinations. So he’s got that going for him.

    Josh and artist Noel Tuazon take their collaboration on ELK’S RUN even further with TUMOR. This opening chapter is a real page-turner (or clicker, I guess…) that reads as sharp and exciting as any noir I’ve read. And I’ve read quite a few.

    And the best part? It’s free. Not free like junk-mail free; free like finding-a-five-dollar-bill-in-an-old-jacket-pocket free. Because like the money, this is worth something. Worth your time and worth your consideration. Highly recommended!

  11. Jason Rodriguez
    November 25th, 2010 at 14:06 | #11


    This may seem like an odd review, but I’d like to start with Josh and Noel’s last collaborative effort, ELK’S RUN. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I edited ELK’S RUN. In fact, I’ve worked with Josh and Noel on three different books, so it’s safe to say I’m a fan of these two and that my review could seem a bit skewed. I’ll let you be the judge of that – for now, ELK’S RUN.

    I loved ELK’S RUN – it was Josh’s baby but it became my baby, as well. I love having my name on a book that, even looking back at it several years later, seems to represent the best work you could get out of a group of creators. Josh’s story was epic and well-crafted. Noel’s art was crisp and clean and inventive when it needed to be. And Scott Keating’s colors elevated the work to the upper-echelon of modern adult genre comics. I honestly didn’t think that Josh and Noel could possibly produce a product that is in any way, shape, or form better than ELK’S RUN. And that’s partly ego, sure, but it was my mindset when I sat down and read TUMOR. TUMOR may be as good as ELK’S RUN, but it’ll never be better.

    And then I read TUMOR. And, honestly, it does it for me in ways that ELK’S RUN didn’t. I wish I could have worked on this book. It’s amazing to see how these two artists have grown together. Noel’s watercolors compliment and juxtapose his high-contrast inking – it purposely keeps the reader off-balance while providing a cohesive sequential narrative to a well-designed, non-linear story. Josh’s story is tight – a bit of MOMENTO dropped into an old school Noir with a modern update – and the dialog and pacing is fresh and energetic.

    It’s a refreshing story. Well-grounded, mysterious, action-packed, cinematic – it’s what adult genre comics should be striving for. It’s obvious that the folks at Archaia gave Josh and Noel free reign on this project; they allowed them to play with the art form, take risks, and produce something that’s wholly original and necessary for comics.

    I don’t know if this is a good endorsement for you or a bad one. I honestly can’t bring myself to say that this project is better than ELK’S RUN, they’re two different types of books entirely and it wouldn’t be fair to compare them, but I can say that I’m actually jealous of this book. But I’m looking past that jealousy and giving this book the five-stars it deserves.

    But this chapter is free. Whether you think I’m biased or not, there should be nothing that stops you from downloading it and seeing it for yourself. I just needed to get it all out there. I didn’t want to be the guy that pretends to be someone who has no attachment to these creators whatsoever in an attempt to get you to try this book. Besides, I personally think it’s a stronger review if it’s coming from the guy who had high expectations for the creators and an ego on the line if they put something together that’s even remotely comparable to one of my babies.

    Josh and Noel are two fantastic creators that simply work great together, regardless of who’s editing them. Ego, you have been humbled.

    November 26th, 2010 at 20:34 | #12


    Very well written crime noir graphic novel. The dialogue and story are both excellent and the black and white artwork is perfect for this style of GN.

    This is an adult graphic novel, yet the F word felt overused in this chapter, but it gets fine tuned in future chapters.

    If you are worried about the quality of this book, since it is a Kindle only release don’t be. This GN is on a par with any release in paper format. I am up to chapter 4 and loving it.

    One caveat, it is unreadable on the regular Kindle as it is too small. But if you have a Dx or Kindle for pc give it a try.

  13. Jacob
    November 27th, 2010 at 09:20 | #13


    As far as first chapters go, the graphic novel shows promise. The story focuses on a private detective trying to solve a case while battling a time disorienting brain tumor.

    A word of caution: Not suitable for kids, very strong language.

  14. Billy Orosco
    November 29th, 2010 at 11:15 | #14


    For all the hype from the writer’s and artist’s friends you’d expect the second coming of Ed Brubacker, but what you get is about on the level of a high school newspaper cartoon strip. Worse, either Fialkov and Tuazon have never heard of THE SINGING DETECTIVE or hope their readers haven’t. Beginner’s Level.

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