THE ADVENTURES OF JODELLE Written by: Pierre Bartier; Drawn by: Guy Peellaert Hardcover • Full-Color Release: May 2012
PRAVDA Written by: Pascal Thomas; Drawn by: Guy Peellaert Hardcover • Full-Color Release: November 2012
FANTAGRAPHICS ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO TWO LEGENDARY BELGIAN CLASSICS: PEELLAERT'S THE ADVENTURES OF JODELLE AND PRAVDA
Fantagraphics Books has signed a deal to release two groundbreaking graphic novels from cult Belgian artist Guy Peellaert (1934-2008): The Adventures of Jodelle (1966) and Pravda (1967). The remastered editions will be produced in collaboration with the late artist's estate, which will contribute previously unseen material for extensive archival supplements.
Both albums were originally released in France by Eric Losfeld, the controversial publisher who passionately defied censorship in the lead-up to the cultural revolution of 1968; along with Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella, Peellaert's Jodelle and Pravda were among the earliest of European adult-oriented graphic novels.
The Adventures of Jodelle, whose voluptuous title heroine was modeled after French teen idol Sylvie Vartan, is a satirical spy story set in a Space Age Roman-Empire fantasy world. Its then-revolutionary clashing of high and low culture references, borrowing as much from Renaissance painting as from a fetishized American consumer culture, marked the advent of the Pop movement within the nascent "9th art" of comic books, not yet dignified as "graphic novels" but already a source of great influence in avant-garde artistic circles. Visually, Jodelle was a major aesthetic shock. According to New York magazine, its "lusciously designed, flat color patterns and dizzy forced perspective reminiscent of Matisse and Japanese prints set a new record in comic-strip sophistication."
Released a year later and first serialized in the French counter-culture bible Hara-Kiri, Pravda follows the surreal travels of an all-female motorcycle gang across a mythical American landscape, led by a mesmerizing cold-blooded heroine whose hyper-sexualized elastic anatomy was this time inspired by quintessential Gallic chanteuse Françoise Hardy. Pravda's eye-popping graphics pushed the psychedelic edge of Jodelle to dazzling new heights, further liberating the story from narrative conventions to focus the reader's attention on the stunning composition and glaring acid colors of the strips, with each frame functioning as a stand-alone cinematic picture.
From Pravda — click to enlarge
Pravda, with its themes of female empowerment and beauty emerging from chaos, became an instant sensation on the European underground scene, inspiring various tributes and appropriations from the worlds of film, literature, fashion, music, live arts, advertising or graphic design. Over the years, it has acquired a rarefied status as a unique and timeless piece of Pop Art defying categorization or trends, and has found itself exhibited in such unlikely "high culture" institutions as the Musée d'Orsay or the Centre Pompidou. An early admirer of Peellaert's radical vision — along with luminaries as diverse as Jean-Luc Godard (who optioned the film rights to Pravda) and Mick Jagger — Frederico Fellini praised Jodelle and Pravda as "the literature of intelligence, imagination and romanticism."
The Adventures of Jodelle was published in the United States in 1967 by Grove Press, whose legendary editor-in-chief Richard Seaver (the man credited with introducing Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs and Henry Miller to America) also provided the translation; Pravda has never been released in English, despite its lead character transcending the long out-of-print book where she originated to become a peculiar iconic figure, the maverick muse of a few "au courant" art and design aficionados from Paris to Tokyo.
Refusing to cash in on the phenomenal success of Jodelle and Pravda (he viewed the former as a one-time graphic "experiment" of which the latter marked the accomplishment) the reclusive Peellaert abruptly left cartoons behind after only two albums at the dawn of the 1970s to pursue an obsessive kind of image-making which painstakingly combined photography, airbrush painting and collage in the pre-computer age. His best-known achievement in America remains the seminal 1973 book Rock Dreams, a collection of portraits which resulted from this distinctive technique and was hailed as "the Sistine Chapel of the Seventies" by Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, eventually selling over a million copies worldwide, influencing a generation of photographers and earning its place in the pantheon of rock culture. Other well-known creations include the iconic artwork for David Bowie's Diamond Dogs album cover (1974) as well as The Rolling Stones' It's Only Rock ‘N' Roll the same year. Peellaert also created the indelible original poster for Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver (1978), the first of many commissions from renowned auteurs including Wim Wenders, Robert Altman, Stephen Frears, Alain Resnais and Robert Bresson.
As the original negatives and color separations for Jodelle and Pravda are long lost (interestingly, Peellaert never reclaimed the original ink-on-paper pages from Losfeld) Fantagraphics will be re-coloring both books digitally. "The original books were colored via hand-cut separations from Peellaert's detailed color indications," said Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson, who will be editing and translating the new editions. "Since the Losfeld editions were printed quite well and Peellaert's linework is thick and simple, we're going to be able to generate crisp black-and-white versions of the line art to start from which should duplicate the original ‘look' exactly. Although actually our edition of Pravda should be better than the original, which had some pretty erratic color registration."
The Adventures of Jodelle is scheduled for release in May 2012, and Pravda in November 2012, both in deluxe oversized hardcover editions. Each will feature an extensive original essay discussing the works and their historical context, accompanied by numerous archival illustrations and photographs.
"I am terrifically excited to bring these two landmark books to American audiences — especially Pravda, which has never been published in English," said Thompson. "They are some of the most graphically jaw-dropping comics ever put to paper. They remain both quintessentially 1960s in attitude and look, and utterly timeless."
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• Review: "How does Peter Bagge stay so good after all these years? Hate Annual #9 was as good as any of the previous issues of Hate (possibly better?). I guess that's why he's one of the all time greats. He just stays good year after year, issue after issue. This latest offering involving Buddy and his wife Lisa and son Harold visiting Lisa's parents in Seattle was hilarious, awkward and sublime! It's a hell of an issue and I want to see what happens next..." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "I was not familiar with Leila Marzocchi's work before [Niger #3], so the subtlety and nuance of her scratchy dark art entranced me right away. It's spooky yet tame enough to remind me of top notch children's book style illustration.... The art is so lovely [that] even when I wasn't sure what exactly was happening story wise, the work on the page was enough to keep me involved." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Coming Attractions: In the latest "Graphic Novel Prepub Alert" from Library Journal, Martha Cornog spotlights a bunch of our upcoming Fall releases:
Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture: A Career Retrospective: "Boomer veterans of Mad magazine will remember Davis's exuberant caricatures, windows into the 1950s and 1960s. Davis also worked extensively on horror, war, and Western titles for EC Comics and other publishers, and his mangier version of the Crypt-Keeper became the character's portrait. Known as a super-fast worker, Davis turned out a huge amount of work, and this collection brings together a variety of comics and commercial art from every stage of his checkered career."
Oil & Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler: "In 2010, Duin and Wheeler joined a group from Oregon touring the environs of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And, it appears, theirs is the first graphic novel reportage on the devastating BP blowout.... You will buy this."
The Hidden by Richard Sala: "Classic setup: a bunch of strangers stranded in a diner during a snowstorm, with a killer on the loose outside. And just for extra fun, maybe a global catastrophe in the works.... Clean line color drawings with a tongue-in-cheek feel."
Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman: "The recent publication of Twain's real autobiography sets the stage for mocking the master of mockery, who surely would have chortled at the homage. This Twain tells of hunting the Yeti ('Come out here and face me, you snow-covered coward!'), meeting the Six Million Dollar Man, having a love affair with Mamie Eisenhower ('Boy oh boy, this lady was one hot dish'), and accidentally becoming involved in X-rated films. Proceed at your own risk!"
• Plug: "From his musings on Hamlet to his thoughts on the TV show Married..with Children, Alexander Theroux covers pop culture, literature, and high art while he takes us on a rambling tour of this tiny Baltic country. Theroux examines Estonia’s language and customs in order to get a larger view of a land which holds a population of less than two million. As he states, 'Seeing Estonia — disrobing her — was my focus.'" – Kathleen Massara, Flavorpill "10 Most Anticipated Summer Reads"
"What makes this volume so special," says Blake, "is that meteoric improvement in Ditko’s work as he toils in obscurity for a company that treated their comic books like toilet paper for their more profitable magazine and song books. Such is the irony of one of the great living artists of the 20th century – working with stories churned out for an audience of children, Ditko produced the highest quality material in the industry with no editorial oversight at an amazing pace (all the stories within were produced in 1957 alone)."
Oh snap, Johnny Ryan dropped a bomb on Facebook last night — this brand new cover art for Prison Pit: Book 3, coming this September! (You may remember the previous version of the cover with the horned demon-looking dude.) Word is he's finished the book and it's even more insane than the first two volumes so gird yourselves!
Jason reports on his blog that he is finishing up the lettering on "Tom Waits on the Moon," the last story to be completed for his next book Athos in America. "No, there is no Tom Waits and no moon in the story. Possibly there is a guy called Tom," he says. Dang. In an earlier post he says he's bringing the pages to Paris tomorrow for scanning — then Hubert colors them, Jason draws the cover, and that's a wrap for the art on the book!
This July we bring you the first volume of Martí's eye-popping masterpiece The Cabbie, and here is your first look at the wonderfully lurid cover! (Click the image for a larger version.) License plate logo design by Jim Blanchard:
Jason shares another uncolored page from his forthcoming book Athos in America, this time from the title story, at his blog. The French dialogue will be translated for our edition, of course. Basically, Athos is confused and overwhelmed by the noise, hustle and bustle, and strange food ("hot dog?") of New York City — the last line is "I feel old in New York."
Jason shares this uncolored page from his forthcoming book Athos in America. See the original handwritten script (in English) and thumbnail sketch at Jason's blog. It's the first page from the story "The Brain That Wouldn't Virginia Woolf." Great title, or greatest title?
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