Thursday, October 11, 2007


Every now and again I’m big enough to admit I was totally wrong about something. This time I’m wondering why the bloody hell I gave up on Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s Cassanova after the first issue? That there is some GOOD comics. All the problems I had with the first issue work out for the best if you give it time. I guess it just goes to show that your personal mood can affect how you see a work of art and experience something. At this point all my reservations seem completely unfounded.

Yep, last night I read the first trade, Luxuria, and man that is a hefty read. It’s a thin book but man-oh-man is it jam-packed with comic book goodness. The super-sexy super-spy guy doing the multiple universe space-time double agent thing is as good as you think it should be. I know I use, and hear, the term “throwing ideas at the page and seeing what sticks” a lot but in this case it’s a more refined process. There is a lot of crazy ideas not just in each story but in each panel and they don’t feel crazy just for the sake of crazy or seeing what works. They feel more like added bonus material. Kind of like a reduced sauce to concentrate the flavor of adventure comic books.

And each month it is only 16 stinkin’ pages?! I had to remind myself that this is actually produced in a shorter format in the floppies because it certainly doesn’t read like that. This book may be small on the page count but it is dense on the content. It’s this little book that has managed to simply cut the crap and it sits now on my shelf, basically mocking other comics for being in need of editing.

And it’s not just the ideas and the stories that are dense. The artwork is kinetic enough to keep you grasped. The minimal use of colour is used to good effect here to remind you that this is comics concentrated. It still uses all the flavors and ingredients of regular comics, like colouring but here it simply doesn’t need all of them to taste amazing. The character designs have an edgy-cartoon feel to me in that they aren’t trying to be photorealistic but a bit blocky in order to allow the characters to exaggerate their behaviours. They are super-fast, super-crack-shots, super-sexy, super-cool and well you can just present that a bit better when you’re not constrained to photo realistic human anatomy. Their design gives them as much character as any of their dialogue and that combination is what makes this story what it is.

So while there may be mathematically less page count and less colours used to dazzle the eye Cassanova reminds me that comics are at their strongest when they are trying to be comic books and not movies on paper. These creators have managed to limit themselves in a way that makes the comic sturdier. There are exaggerated plots and convoluted storylines but they never feel bloated in anything but action. It really is like mainlining modern adventure comics, but be careful, you may not be ready for it on your first try.

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