Page 45 Review by Jonathan
This publication, in English at long last, was scheduled long before the passing of the great man in September 2012 it just took a little too long to appear. Its a crying shame how little of Toppis work, like so many Italian and continental creators, has been translated into English over the years. We get crumbs, when in fact there is a veritable feast of material available in their respective native languages. An Italian friend well, my bank manager actually is forever showing works to me by Italian creators I was hitherto unaware of. Its just a shame my Italian is still insufficient to appreciate them.
You dont however need to speaka da lingo as Captain Alberto Bertorelli might say to appreciate the beautiful art and Toppi, therefore, along with many others like say, Barron Storey, falls into the category of creator who whilst perhaps not being hugely well known to the wider comics audience, is certainly known and appreciated by those within the industry. Simone Bianchi is someone who cited Toppi as inspiration, for example, and just comparing ASTONISHING X-MEN: GHOST BOX S/C and this work I instantly see that. The long striated set of flowing lines to create texture was a trademark touch of Toppi and I remember whilst reading GHOST BOX that it reminded me of something but I couldnt think what. Ashley Wood too apparently was inspired by him and he clearly influenced a whole host of early era 2000AD artists too, I reckon, thinking back. In others words, an artists artist.
This work is an evocative, passionate and vibrant rendering of the tale of the legendary storyteller of A Thousand And One Nights, Sharaz-De (one of a thousand and one spellings), who voluntarily put herself in jeopardy but eventually won the heart of King Shahryar and ended up being made Queen. The initial chapter is given over to the story of King Shahryar, his brother and their unfaithful wives, and precisely how Sharaz-De ended up in the position of having to spin a different nightly yarn so that the said King wouldnt chop off her head. The subsequent chapters feature eleven of the tales beautifully illustrated in Toppis unique fashion. Given its such a visual sell I have therefore popped some interior art up so you can have a look. Shame Archaia didnt get this out a couple of months earlier as I reckon we would have shifted a fair few copies as Christmas presents.