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I am about to leave for Assam tonight on a longish vacation. No work for quite a few days, whew. No internet access there, so probably will check my mail once every couple of days. I shudder to think of the art deals I will miss in that time, considering the kind of discounts that come up during the holiday season. But hey, I had already decided that the year’s last art purchase is done, so I should be ok. No, really.

It’s nearly been two years since I went home. Plans to go there early this year were scuttled because of the US trip. Am eager to see how Guwahati has changed from the time I went home last. A lot of Evil-Relative Visits are in the offing, and also a family wedding. *sigh* There go my plans of doing a Pinky Violence Movie Marathon during the period.

Which brings to mind the two-movie marathon nine of us did at the private theatre in Cinema Paradiso recently ( yes, technically two movies can hardly be called a marathon, but bear with me, huh? ), and watched The Triplets of Belleville – a French animation movie that SCREAMS to be watched. Please, please, if you have not seen The Triplets of Belleville yet, go and do so. Right frickin’ now. And followed it up with a Spanish movie called Di Que Si, which turned out to be a Hindi-movie-made-in-Spain. And of course, we came back home and had to follow up the evening’s proceedings with a Korean movie….

And that reminds me, how many of these do you have?

And I finished off the volumes of Torpedo I got from my friend in the USA. What a great comic! Luca Torelli, the eponymous torpedo ( slang for ‘hitman’ in the 1920s) in the series is a bastard of the first order. He’s a rare antiprotagonist – I don’t know if I have to root for Luca as he goes around dispatching his hits and his enemies, or if I ought to feel sympathetic towards him the numerous times he finds himself with the short end of the stick, or be repulsed by his misogynistic actions and outright unapologetic villainy. Sanchez Abuli writes these stories, each of them a couple of pages long, mostly unrelated other than the lead character and his sidekick, Rascal, as the two cut a swathe in the crime scene of New York in the roaring 20’s. There are occasional flashback stories, that illuminate Torpedo’s life and aspects of his character and his parentage – these lead to some moments of great emotional resonance. I read volumes 1,3,5,6 and 7 out of 15 published volumes, and they were consistently good. And the art…sigh.

So let’s talk about the artist, Jordi Bernet. He’s a Spanish artist, and a year ago, I hadn’t heard about him. And then, one day, I read a bunch of Torpedo scans and the art looked like someone had taken the meanness of a Joe Kubert figure and the dynamism of Alex Toth and the drop-dead gorgeousness of Dan DeCarlo. Which is another way of saying that his work was effing brilliant. His layouts blow out so-called giants of the American comicbook industry out of the water. You can see his influence in Risso’s work, the same way you can see the origins of his style in Kubert. His loose, fluid inking suits the gritty nature of the series perfectly. Alex Toth drew the first two stories, and dare I say it, Bernet’s art elevates the series to a new dimension altogether. By the fifth volume, we start getting the stories in colour – none of that murky American computer colouring shite, this is beautifully done. ( Though I will be damned if I knew who the colorist was – Bernet himself? ) And that brings me to another observation – most artists who look really good in black and white have some portion of their work downgraded by color – can you, for instance, think of From Hell in color? Jay Anacleto also comes to mind here, one of the most promising new masters of black and white I’ve seen in recent times, whose work positively glows in black and white but loses some of its sheen in color. Not so with Bernet – he recently did a series of chapters in the ongoing Jonah Hex series, and the art looks fresh and striking in full color.

This is the Bernet sketch Pablo got for me from the Barcelona convention in Spain this year.

The cover to Custer, a scifi noir book in Spanish that Pablo sent me as a birthday gift.

A random page from Torpedo, volume 5 or 6. This is a hilarious sequence in which Luca and Rascal are shaking up a hit inside a movie theater, when Tarzan is on. Rascal keeps asking him – “Would you do Jane? Would you do Jane?” and everytime he stammered a reply, Torpedo would elbow him in the face – “Quiet! Let me watch the movie.” and “Answer when he asks you a question.”

Goddamnit, I need a Bernet page, world!

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7 thoughts on “

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bernet did in B/W the first 8 books. After that he started doing them in color and re-edited those 8 in colors. He does them himself. And his main influence is his father Jorge Bernet, a famous comic artist who did funny comic books for kids like 50 years ago. Enjoy your holidays, dude! (Pablo)

  2. Beat ol’ chap, did you get around to ordering Black Dossier?

    Inspired (once again) by your lengthy exposition, I picked up the first two volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub from the university library yesterday. I was up most of last night reading (and re-reading) them. Ah, so good. So very good.

    Thank you, kind sir.

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