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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bogie [Humphrey Bogart Graphic Novel]

by Claude Jean-Phillippe & Patrick Lesueur (Translated by Wendy Payton)

Publisher: Eclipse Books (November 1989)

Softcover 60 pages

Finished 10/25/2017

Amazon Listing

    Originally in written in French, this graphic biography, masquerading as an autobiography, has Humphrey DeForest (Yes, that’s his middle name.) Bogart as the narrator filling us in on the key events of his life. This book was one of series of graphic novels the authors did on old Hollywood stars. There are additional ones covering the life of the Marx Brothers, Errol Flynn, and Charlie Chaplin- though this is the only one reprinted in English. 

    The art is excellent, photo-realistic, culled from old publicity stills and candid photos. The coloring and shading gives a real gritty feel to Bogart and his permanent five o’clock shadow. It covers his upscale beginnings in the best neighborhood in Manhattan, to his early days as a bit player on the stage, to being the backup guy for George Raft, Paul Muni, and Jimmy Cagney, to his eventual rise to fame and cinematic immortality.
    While not the most exhaustive biography into Bogart's life (how could it be? It’s only 56 pages.), it covers the parts the casual reader would be interested in. It delves into some interesting detail on his four marriages, his incessant drinking, and his big break. Apparently he only got the lead in The Maltese Falcon because George Raft had little confidence in the new director John Huston. Who, of course, went on to direct some of the greatest films of all time. There are lots of fascinating tidbits like that in this book. 

    It was published by Eclipse Comics in 1989. Eclipse was one of the first direct marketing comic publishers which sprung up in 1977, after the new distribution system was set in place. It then crashed in the same direct market bust in the mid nineties- when oversaturation of material and a general decline in art and writing caused many people (including myself) to quit collecting the medium.  
    Their demise was unfortunate because they had consistently produced excellent creator owned material. Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman did Miracleman through them, an astounding comic only know being re-released after decades in legal hell. They published a lot of high quality adaptations of Clive Barker books. And they pushed out one of my favorite comics Destroyer Duck by Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby, and Buzz Dixon. Which was a comic designed to bring in money for Gerber’s ongoing legal battle with Marvel Comics over the rights to Howard the Duck. 

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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