Thursday, December 30, 2010

Leo Pulp

Half the fun of reading the Italian graphic novel Leo Pulp is trying to find a character not based on some real or fictional personage.

Author Claudio Nizzi has squeezed them all in (or paid tribute to them) under their own names or thinly disguised: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dick Tracy, Darryl F. Zanuck, Marilyn Monroe, Sunset Boulevard, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato, Orson Welles, Erich von Stroheim, Peter Lorre, Greta Garbo, the Black Dahlia, Red Harvest (maybe), The Maltese Falcon (explicitly), Little Sister, The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, even, God help me, Joel and Ethan Coen. (The Farewell My Lovely-inspired Velma appears here as Velma Lebowsky.)

Perhaps the only character wholly original to the book is Leo Pulp himself, the tough, long-chinned P.I. who charges twenty-five bucks a day — unless the name is a tribute to Léo Malet, creator of Nestor Burma.

One review compared Leo Pulp illustrator Massimo Bonfatti to the old Mad magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones, and the parallel is apt. Both artists used every square inch of space, offering a busy feast for the eyes like a cartoon Pieter Breughel. The book is sprinkled with gorgeous panels, lovingly rendered in depth and detail in the style of George McManus as well. This is a book worth looking at as well as reading.

Self-question for the evening: Why should I get so upset just because someone at the Pen & Pencil Club just said: "The price point is choice!" when I think he meant "It's cheap!"?

Did I mention that the young pirla was smoking a cigar?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, first off best wishes for 2011 to you, and may you be able to maintain your enthusiasm, knowledge and good humo(u)r in your blog for many years to come
Or as long as you feel its worthwhile.

I'm not sure do I remember that particular Mad artist but when watching Fritz Lang's wonderful final film, 'The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse' recently I remarked that it reminded me, at times, of Mad's wonderfully zany 'Spy v Spy'

btw, I'm sure I still have a wonderful large 'What Me, Worry?' poster stashed away somewhere
(although, unlike Dorian Gray, I'm ageing, whereas it probably doesn't look a day older than when I bought it, I think, almost 35 years ago!!!)

January 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, and the same to you. Remember those crowded drawings in the margins of Mad? Those were Sergio Aragones’. This page offers a sample, notably the drawing at lower left in the first drawing board you’ll see.

This week at the Pen & Pencil Club, an acquaintance with a long, thin nose was wearing a wide-brimmed hat. I told him he looked like the Black Spy in Spy vs. Spy. He agreed.

January 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Oh, of course
I loved those too
And I'm sure I must have a Don Martin compilation somewhere, that I probably bought as long ago.

I'm just about to put in an order for a Spy v Spy compilation via Amazon.
I wonder did your buddy star in the Lang film?

Speaking of homages, I was delighted to see the previous owners had installed venetian blinds in all of the rooms in my apartment; and, although I have yet to wear them, outside, I snapped up a trenchcoat and fedora hat on Ebay recently!

January 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One reason I liked Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy is that they were easy for non-artists like me to try to imitate. To this day, I can draw recognizable figures from both.

January 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I'm hopeless at drawing, although I can appreciate visual art of all types.
I wouldn't even attempt yer proverbial "matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs!"

Me and my middle brother used to put together magazines in our teenage years where he would do all the drawings and I'd provide the text. Although I would also contribute on layout and design and photographs.
He was quite a decent animator but he never kept it up after leaving school.

We were both huge fans of Mad at the time

January 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, the faces, at least, in Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy were combinations of simple geometric figures -- not hard to draw if one loved the cartoons, even for we non-artists.

January 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I don't know is it evident in the music, but I just chanced upon a CD of mine which I haven't played in a while, Spy Vs Spy - The Music of Ornette Coleman, by John Zorn, which you might care to check out if you're a fan of either
(at the very least, his heart is in the right place!)

January 04, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, that sounds worth a look, especially if I can find some good cover art from it. I have a couple of Ornette Coleman records, and I like the stuff he did early in his career. I also have a couple of interesting records for which John Zorn was producer or impresario. So I'll look for Spy vs. Spy: the Album soon. Thanks.

January 04, 2011  

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