Guido Crepax is one of the most important names in the history of European comics. A fusion of fashion, fine art, erotica and French New Wave, his artwork was one of the definitive examples of the European adventure serial and added legitimacy to the erotic genre in Europe. This second collection of his work from Fantagraphics focuses on his signature character Valentina as he takes her from the science fiction realm into highly surreal adventures, whilst also showcasing more of his popular female characters.
At 424 pages and in an oversized format, this is one hefty collection and is of the usual high standards of Fantagraphics’ archive collections. It is fitting that Crepax gets this treatment as his insanely surreal pages and storytelling need to be seen at full size to be appreciated. And if you are a fan of European sci-fi with a healthy helping of the surreal thrown in, then there’s no better place to start than with one of the innovators of the comic side of the genre. Although Valentina has its roots in the superhero genre (Valentina was originally a supporting character in Crepax’s Neutron series as the title character’s girlfriend, but was then promoted to co-star before becoming the main star of the strip and having it renamed after her), it is safe to say that the stories in this volume mark a departure to the more surreal (even for sci-fi) style of stories. Whilst there’s plenty of classic sci-fi elements you’d expect (battles with space pirates and androids, and finding an astronaut in one’s garden) the surreal nature the stories take makes it most memorable. One of the key elements in that regard is the use of dreams that Valentina has which transition seamlessly from her reality to the point where what is real or not is constantly in question.
From an artistic standpoint, Crepax work is incredibly multifaceted with fashion, erotica, horror, the surreal and sci-fi elements all delivered on in excellent form (not to mention some of the coolest looking character designs you’ll see).
Anyone wishing to discover European comics owe it to themselves to take a look at Crepax’s work and this collection is a perfect example of how diverse his art and storytelling was and also a great showcase of one of European comic’s most iconic characters.
The Complete Crepax: The Time Eater and Other Stories is out now from Fantagraphics
9781606999738 – H/B £57.99
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