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Violent Cases: Words & Pictures

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,865 ratings  ·  181 reviews
A perceptively sensitive and ingenious work, Violent Cases, reveals the often murky nexus between memory and imagination through the narrator's cloudy childhood remembrance of a visit to Al Capone's osteopath and the impact of seedy stories on impressionable youth. McKean has created a stunning new cover in honor of the book's 10th anniversary.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by Kitchen Sink Press (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  3,865 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic
I think I appreciate what the collaborators were trying to do, more than I liked the end result. Gaiman provides a compelling and discomforting story and McKean's accompanying artwork is striking, but the whole package just didn't get under my skin. The story looks at how formative memory is in making us who we are and how undependable it is at the same time, a theme which really resonates with me, but there was such a disconnect for me between the child's experiences and the over the top Al ...more
Winter Branch
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: very few people
Shelves: graphicnovels
I don't know what to say. The artwork was beautiful in this graphic novel but (and I'm not trying to be a Gaiman hater here) the story was forgettable.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Violent Cases is an interesting graphic novel by Niel Gaiman. It is a short story that has been adapted to graphic novel format.
Violent Cases is just a tale about a small boy who has to go to a doctor. Turns out the Doctor was once a Doctor for Al Capone. There begins a strange story. It's a look at a boy who is very interested in the concept of who and what Al Capone was. The story is a relatively dark one. The strange art style complements the tone, though much like the art in Arkham Asylum it
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say this story was fantastic, but then again, maybe that's the point. What's so thrilling about this is that it's the very first time Gaiman and McKean worked together. The first time!!!! How can you not squee about that?

The story begins with a man, so obviously a young, smoking, mullet sporting, Neil remembering something from his youth. It's not that big of a deal. His memory isn't perfect, and time has probably embellished the hell out of the story, but that's how memories of our
Ben Labe
A young man recalls the story of his childhood osteopath, who was an old associate of Al Capone. As the narrator combines the pieces of his memory, we get the sense that they are not so much facts as idealized embellishments of a remote past. The surrounding events all have special pertinence, and characters change form as the story progresses. Because the events were taken in through a child's lens, the men appear as domineering figures, with vast wrinkles and hard, chiseled faces. But it is ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is basically the same review as the one I wrote for the other Neil Gaiman graphic novel (Murder Mysteries) that I read recently. I liked the promise of this story. It seems to follow very much like his short stories do - abrupt at the end and leaves me wondering what happened and what the point of the story was. The story that is there though is good nonetheless.
Sooraya Evans
Sep 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A poor job of utilizing the unreliable narrator approach.
The repetitive use of 'I don't remember', 'I'm not sure' and 'I forget' becomes annoying after a while.
The story surrounding Al Capone itself wasn't all that interesting.
To make things worse, the lettering was illegible.
Skip this.
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaiman fans, comics geeks, readers of every colour
This was the world's introduction to the literary marriage of Gaiman & McKean, and it began a collaboration that would bear just as hypnotic and enchanting fruit as this. In Gaiman's introduction, he offers that Violent Cases was largely the result of trying to show the world what comics could do; it goes a long way toward that goal, but in the very least estimation tells a simple & eerily nostalgic tale quite effectively.
I truly cannot imagine having to have read this in its
Michael Emond
For all those giving out 5 stars perhaps they can sit down and tell me what the point of the story was/is. Yes the art is very pretty but like most of Dave McKean's artwork I find I don't get drawn in emotionally. The story is about an incident from Neil's childhood about how his dad accidentally broke Neil's arm on day and Neil was taken to an osteopath who used to work for Al Capone. Then we get a few more childhood observations thrown in, a children's party at the end when Neil runs into the ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every fan of Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean as well as of adult-themed graphic novels.
A very nice, slickly-produced hardcover reissue of Neil Gaiman's & Dave McKean's first collaboration, which marked the beginning of a decades-long beautiful friendship that has graced generations of readers with a remarkable and varied body of work and art.

Violent Cases is a dark but lushly-illustrated examination of how memory, circumstance, and time conspire to create the stories we tell ourselves about our past. The inclusion of several forewords by industry insiders as well as lots of
Art the Turtle of Amazing Girth
This was very impressive
I dug the perspective of storytelling, and the characters were very well fleshed out for such a short book.

At the end, I wanted much more of the style and everything but I was happy with how the thing ended up in the air to an extent.

This is my first Neil Gaiman book ever read, and I'm happy it was his first comic book project.

Violent Cases is #97 on the top 100 graphic novels of all time list, I am enjoying this journey almost as much as my Stephen King book club.
Jana Denardo
One of Neil's earlier works and I have to say it's not very memorable but maybe that's because it's so not my type of thing. It's a gangster/Al Capone story and I don't really care for those. McKean's art is fascinating as always.
M.A. Garcias
I had waited too many years to read this book and was a bit disappointed by it. On the one hand, it features the themes and styles from both authors, which is always a guarantee of quality. On the other, the story is so thin and directionless, that in the end you feel you've been reading an experimental exercise in style more than a finished work. I'd still recommend it, the visuals are beautiful and so is the writing, it just leaves you wanting for a more focused story. Next in line from the ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read that one. Still an excellent graphic novel about childhood, memories, (mis)understanding or interpreting things as a child and Al Capone.
Jonathan Maas
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's an experience

This is not so much a tale, but an experience. When you conceive of it as an experience, you'll understand it a bit better.

In any case, I recommend it.
Mike Keirsbilck
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-52-books
To feed my current Gaiman obsession, I decided to explore his graphic stories some more. This book, with the artwork of Dave McKean, was first up on my list. And Gaiman delivers again... It's a relatively short story, but the length perfectly suits the story, as it deals with the imperfections of our memory. Whole histories are compressed and distorted. This is just what the story will tell: A narrator that closely resembles Gaiman tells us of his relationship with his father and of the ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I put this book on my "currently reading" list and then promptly set it aside to finish something else.
At only about 50 pages, you can get through it in no time at all, even if you linger over the superb illustrations by Dave McKean.

"Violent Cases" was one of the first collaborations between Neil Gaiman and artist McKean. Too short to be a graphic novel, it is more aptly called a graphic short story. The story is framed in the form of a childhood recollection of a meeting with Al Capone's
Carlos Emilio
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
The contrasts on this graphic novel might make the reader feel a bit uneasy, but Gaiman's way of leading you through a story full of violence while he masks it all in behind the eyes of a child, makes for this story one to love.
The characters might seem distant at moments and even detached form the reader, yet this does not make the story any less entertaining and helps enhance the feeling of darkness and past in the novel.
Jason Bootle
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is where the glorious collaboration between Gaiman and McLean started. Great story so very well executed in pictures by McLean exploring memory, childhood, social etiquette and the legend of Al Capone. It wasn't the story I was expected. Never is with Gaiman.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of these fine creators and comics
Recommended to Brent by: these fine creators and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
Like a time capsule from old friends Neil and Dave... These guys. I know I read this upon first publication in the USA, but I guess that was this color edition, not the B&W UK edition... Just read it.
Amanda [Novel Addiction]
Huh. Well, this was interesting... but definitely nothing to write home about.

Counts as "a book published the year you were born" for my 2015 reading challenge. I cheated a little bit - this is a re-released version of the old one, but the original text is all there.
Eamonn Murphy
‘Violent Cases’ is a graphic short story written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Dave McKean. The first panel shows the narrator, a man in his thirties, lighting a cigarette. The illustrations that follow show the story he’s telling but occasionally cut back to him. On pages 5-6 it cuts to the present day and him asking his father to clarify something.

The events he is recounting took place in Portsmouth, England when the narrator was four years old. His father accidentally hurt the little boy’s arm
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paulina Sanchez
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This graphic novella is told from the point of view of a man recalling memories from when he was four years old. It's really interesting this point of view along with the images drawn by Dave McKean. The memory has to do with his relationship with an osteopath who seems to have worked with Al Capone.

This story is about memory, what it is like to try to remember something from one's childhood and the possibility that having grown up clouds or morphs certain aspects of that memory. It's really
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gaiman sings and Dave McKean leaves his reader in wonders at his ability to make comics out of picture, sketches, photographs, and physical objects layered on top of art. This book was recommended to me not long after finishing Batman: Arkham Asylum and I understand why, this book is marvelous.

Much like the Mr. Punch, Gaiman tells a story of a young man witnessing the faulty of spirit of adults, and what happens when dreams are ultimately betrayed or lost by the bitterness of adulthood. This is
Daniel A.
I don't know whether it's because I'm reading Violent Cases: Words and Pictures (the first collaboration between a then-up-and-coming Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean) more than thirty years after it originally came out—and thus whether it's because there've been so many more innovative and arguably more groundbreaking graphic novels published—but I found Violent Cases just . . . meh.

I recognize that in 1987, there was virtually nothing like Violent Cases, at least on American bookshelves, and as
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These two have always been a force to be reckoned with. Violent Cases was no exception and Team Gaiman/McKean certainly did not disappoint. It is a beautifully woven tale that explores our perceptions of truth and memory. The storytelling is unique, seamless and gripping. Each character draws you in and endears you to them. Word of warning: it will leave you with more questions than answers. When I finished reading, the question left in my head was “If you doubt the truth of a memory, then did ...more
Jonathan Natusch
I love Neil Gaiman, and I love Dave McKean, and this was their first collaboration. McKean's art is as beautiful and off-kilter as ever, but the story itself just didn't grab me. There's an unreliable narrator (presumably a young Neil) telling a story about the time his father dislocated his arm, and the story about Al Capone told to him by his osteopath. As with many Gaiman short stories, things are left unsaid, and a conclusion is fuzzy. This time though, the end result was less than the sum ...more
Cori Spenzich
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gaiman and McKean's "first child," with gangsters carrying violent cases of tommy guns within. A story of a man telling a story from his childhood. Made me think of Mr. Punch, a story of a man telling a story from his childhood, too. Both of them play well with the murkiness of memory.

Al Capone, baseball bats, and terrible parties with children. Have you ever wondered what a violent, adult-version of musical chairs looks like? Violent Cases provides a good take.

Again, amazing artwork by Dave
Brian Rogers
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Spurred by a remembrance of the world osteopath I pulled this off the shelf for a reread, and it is as much a dizzying tour de force as I remembered from my first read oh so many years ago. There is so much going on in the art and writing that it left an indelible impression on my then young psyche - looking back at so many things I wrote in college they were attempts to mimic this book, whether i wanted to admit it or not. If you have the chance to read it, read it.
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