Wednesday, July 04, 2012

July 4th & Monsieur Bouncer

A taste of the vistas from Boucq's Bouncer art.
Happy July Fourth! Given that today is Independence Day, if one needs to even consider the impact of our country on the world around us, they need look no further than the pervasive American aesthetic. Though most are familiar with the idea of "cowboys and Indians"( a game kids in the neighborhood and I used to play but no longer is in vogue), as "American" as the western is, it has been in many ways artistically co-opted by our European friends. Most notable in the "spaghetti Western." (This may change however briefly next December with the release of Quenton Tarantino's Django Unchained.)

About two years ago, when fueled by a new found appreciated for Spaghetti Westerns, I first began reading similarly-themed comics, one of my first stops (after the local comic book shop) was online "store," While I prefer spending my comic book money at locally, I find the online stores to be useful in quickly surveying what books are out there, quickly and without unnecessary expense on less-than-worthwhile purchases.

Though mildly familiar with the French Westerns, primarily though an appreciation for the movie Blueberry (aka Renegade) (2004), I film I reveiwed years ago, which was in turn based on the Franco-Belgian comics western series Blueberry created by the Belgian scriptwriter Jean-Michel Charlier and French comics artist Jean "MÅ“bius" Giraud.  Unfortunately, copies of that particualr series are very hard to come by, so while trolling the online longbox for other possible related title, I came across the Bouncer series written by  meta-physical Western film maker (and one time potential Dune movie adapter) Alexandro Jodorowsky and drawn by Francois Boucq.

Translated by Justin Kelley, and re-published in the United States by Humanoids Publishing, there are four different Bouncer titles available in hardcover editions, and to date I have added two of the four titles released to my collection: Bouncer: Executioners' Mercy (2003) and  Bouncer: Cain's Eye (2002). Like any good revisionist western, both books deal with themes of guilt, revenge, and loss, all set within gorgeous brown and tan vistas peopled by ugly, violent villains and heroes--black and white dewcritpions whcih do not apply to our illiterate, bastard "hero."

Though missing two "issues," a loss which does create for some missing back story for the protagonist, like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, one's ability to enjoy the action is not diminished from the absence (or non-sequential viewing of) the larger story. In fact, given that Bouncer's oft used nom de plume is "the One-Armed Gunslinger" offers about as much insight into the man as one needs to jump into the engagingly surreal West as envisioned by the book's creators.

Perhaps you, like I, will, in addition to spending time with my family, watching my son run in a celebratory road race and chowing on some good ol' fashioned picnic food, spend some time today celebrating our country's "birthday" with a movie and/or graphic novel which offers a (though gritty) romanticized version of the American landcsape and attitude missing from most domestically produced works. For a more in-depth (and knowldegable) look into the European-Western genre (with an emphasis on Bouncer) check out the Daniel Calder's online essay One-Armed Gunslingers and Germans in Teepees: A Brief Guide to the Euro-Western.

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