When I wrote Worth a Thousand Words, I promised a second instalment. So here it is.
This time it’s science fiction graphic novels. Now, I could have just written about the various titles by Alexandro Jodorowsky – The Incal, Metabarons, Technopriests and Megalex. They’re originally published in French, of course; but some have been translated into English. But not all of them, not yet. Still, I do have a French – English dictionary…
Jodorowsky’s graphic novels are a bit, well, weird. Like his films. The Incal is a knockabout sf satire, in which a fool (called John DiFool) must protect a crystal of enormous power, the Light Incal, from various evil factions. All of the characters are based on Tarot cards. Some commentators have likened parts of The Incal to Dune, but I can’t see the resemblance. The story of the Metabarons, a family of superlative mercenaries, is framed as one robot telling a story to another robot, who already knows it. The Technopriests is presented as the reminisces of an old man, describing how he turned his back on a career making cheese and became instead a creator of videogames. It’s actually a space opera, just in case that’s not clear. And Megalex is just as strange – a clone fights to defeat the eponymous planetary city, using the forces of nature. Each series was illustrated by a different artist: Moebius, Juan Giménez, Zoran Janjetov and Fred Beltran respectively.
I could have written this piece just about Jodorowsky’s work, but I won’t…
The Fourth Power, Juan Giménez – a young space fighter pilot escapes certain death when attacked by an enemy patrol, and discovers that she is linked to a new weapon of enormous power called “the Fourth Power”. Spaceships… aliens… and that slightly-odd way of looking at science fiction the French do so well.
The Sacred and the Profane, Dean Motter and Ken Steacy – I remember first reading this serialised in Marvel’s Epic Illustrated magazine back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I only bought issues when flying to or from the Middle East, which was about four times a year. So I only read parts of it. A couple of years ago, I decided to buy myself a collected edition, only to discover it was quite hard to find. But then one popped up on eBay. A signed numbered edition. Result. The Sacred and the Profane is about a Jesuit mission to another star which encounters alien life in an asteroid. It’s pretty intense stuff for a sf graphic novel from the 1980s.
Garth, Frank Bellamy – this was a strip in the Daily Mirror, and ran from 1943 to 1997. I remember it from the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was written and drawn by Frank Bellamy. Garth was an adventurer, stronger and smarter than most men, who would occasionally travel through time. He was involved in some sort of fight between Good and Evil, and his various adventures were often couched as episodes in this eternal battle. Fleetway published two Daily Mirror Garth annuals in 1975 and 1976, and Titan Books later published a pair of books in 1984 and 1985.
Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent, Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières – Valérian is a long-running French series, with twenty volumes published to date in France. Only a handful have been translated into English. The most recent of these is the trilogy in The New Future Trilogy published by iBooks, but the few earlier volumes published by Hodder-Dargaud are worth hunting down. It’s no-frills space opera done with wit and invention, with Valérian and his sidekick Laureline getting involved in various adventures.