“The Collector” By Sergio Toppi Review
By Hank Van Hawkins
As soon as I signed into Boom! comics with my fresh sparkling new press pass, I saw a lot of titles that piqued my interest. But, the one that drew me in right away more so than any of the others initially was The Collector. Despite the fact it is an entire graphic novel, I know I could have started off by choosing a few single issues of something else first but I had to sink my teeth into this one right upon seeing it. It is a translated work by Italian artist Sergio Toppi. With the basic plot and cover art it was speaking to my personal tastes, so I dove right in. The premise of the character alone is enough to get my imagination in gear. The art work has a surreal undertone, almost immediately exposing the artist’s love for impressionism. It is bare bones drawing at it’s most poignant. If anything, his art organically inspires the artist in all of us to not worry about coloring outside the lines or worrying about every little mark having to be exactly perfect. Honestly, the art is transcendental.
I usually take in the art work before diving into the writing as a matter of fact. I didn’t get too far before my curiosity couldn’t hold it’s rabid thirst for The Collector’s story, and believe you me, there is a lot of depth to the tale. It obviously speaks out about the collector in every collector out there, somehow leading to this guy as one of the original purveyors of a practice that is all too common in this day and age whether it is comics, cards, games or antiquities for that matter. There isn’t alot out there that isn’t collected in some capacity.
He is a well rounded and well financed eclectic eccentric with his hand in many creative business ventures. He is a worldly gentlemen whose interests push through to many facets of the finer things in life. And in turn, keep him on the move to the next piece of his “collection.” In order to collect, one must have monetary means to feed the habit so to speak. Of course, I love westerns and any story seemingly set in anywhere in the 1800’s. So it is an easy and interesting read and again, the art work is very eye pleasing and the story line plays up the primitive look of the drawing as well. He has a vigilante streak to his persona that comes in handy when he finds many characters as obstacles that are in the way of his pursuit. He is a gentlemen about his rogue means. His power of persuasion is pervasive as he uses his manners to ask many a stranger for his next clue to the object of his current affection.
I really love how he comes across famous historical figures and heads to historical places, all while on the hunt. It is at the least a page from the “who’s who” of tribal chiefs and Native Americans during the first arc. An entertaining tale with its roots in reality. Anytime you can have Crazy Horse as one of the characters, of course I am going to buy this book ! It holds up tremendously well considering it was first released in the sixties. His drawing style is actually very similar to Jack Jackson, a famous illustrator of many underground comics from the 60’s . He is one of R. Crumb‘s peers. Jack himself drew and wrote many historical stories about outlaws and lawmen from the roots of The Republic of Texas and it’s as if both of these guys prayed at the same art altar at one time or another.
Anytime archaeology and artifacts are woven into a story line it seems to appeal to history buffs, lit freaks as well as comic book readers. This is a all round great read. It portrays the rough hewn grit of the old west as the Collector moves on from artifact to artifact which keeps each arc in the story stirring enough to keep your attention. He is part Jonah Hex and part Indiana Jones . A great culmination which I only wish there was more to read. It also reminds me of the french comic hero Blueberry, but with the added angle of the search for each artifact and its back story, all the while shifting nicely into the current pursuit of the next piece. He lives on the edge during each of his crusades where he constantly flirts with disaster during each of his pursuits. He extinguishes any one who happens to stand in his way. Nothing nor anyone stands in his way. A relentless collector.
If you have never read a graphic novel before and the form is new to you, there would be no better place to start than the collector.
Please read on for a preview of ‘The Collector’ by Sergio Toppi
Have you read the collector? How about any of Hank’s references in the article? Leave a comment and discuss.