Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"You have only one thing to do: Listen to me!
"Just do what I say!"
Are you listening? That's Toppi talking, by the way not me. You tell 'em, Toppi! If it was me, I'd be telling you to buy this. I am just about to do that shortly, by the way, I feel I have to warn you...
Anyway, it's not Toppi himself, of course, but one of his creations giving you the hard word. Well, giving another of his creations a stern talking to, but you see what I mean. If you don't, and I wouldn't blame you, because I am blathering on rather, just have a look at the amazing art inside this first of seven planned works collecting eleven of his shorts which have appeared in various publications over the years.
I think, given that the subtitle of the second collection due later this year is 'North America' and it apparently "contains eleven tales set in historical periods within the early United States, Canada, and Alaska" and judging from the content here, which ranges from a vengeful Celtic god to a mushroom-hating gnome and all manner of magical, fantastical malarkey in-between, usually with a cynically dark, if not deadly, edge going on somewhere, the seven books are all going to have rather different themes.
I must say, as brilliant and stylistically unique an artist as Toppi is, and he truly is, I therefore tend, much like with Paul ESCAPO Pope, to forget just how fabulous a writer he is too. There were many of these shorts which I would have loved him to expand upon. Don't get me wrong, the pieces here are no throwaway half-formed shorts, even the shortest is ten superlative pages, but each is such a gem of an idea that they could all have easily been expanded / worked into longer-form works. My two favourites were probably 'Solitudinis Morbus' about a very, very peculiar sickness that afflicts only lighthouse keepers and 'Aioranguaq' about an Inuit who loses his name whilst out hunting and has to earn it back.
As mentioned, I note this volume also contains eleven stories. Now, I have no idea if that is some sort of mystical thematic numerical congruency the editor is trying to achieve, and each of the other five volumes will also contain eleven yarns making a grand total of seventy-seven. Possibly upon completing reading the seventy seventh story, a large portal will open up, Toppi will appear and drag the reader off to the comics underworld. Given how enjoyable reading this particular set was, I'm willing to take that risk...
If you want a more sensible review of some Toppi material, please check out THE COLLECTOR, as unfortunately SHARAZ-DE is seemingly out of print for good now. One more thing... like I said...
Buy this! That's me telling you.