The Adventures of Jodelle is pure pop. In the best sense. A tale of espionage and betrayal set in ancient Rome, but all its decadence, bacchanalia, and frivolity rendered in the most modern sense. 1960’s modern, mind you, inspired by the famous Gottlieb pinball machines. So Rome is re-imagined as resembling some hybrid of the French Riviera and the Vegas strip, all neon and fluorescent, yet still flat, matte, and beautiful. Immediately recognized as a game changer, this book is all about the art – as in the work within, and the movement so definitive of the devastating cultural explosion that was the 1960’s.
Originally published in the satirical and controversial French magazine Hara-Kiri, this collaboration between script writer Pierre Bartier and now legendary Belgian artist Guy Peelleart, is a standout among those incredible revolutionary comix with an “x”. Fantagraphics’ 2013 re-release includes the complete original comic, translated to English, of course, as well as an eighty page supplement that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Peelleart but were afraid to ask.
The malevolent but well liked Proconsuless plans to overthrow Rome’s Emperor Augustus. The only way to stop her is to retrieve and expose her diary, in which, in Bond villain fashion, she reveals all of her despicable deeds and aspirations. Fem-spy Jodelle comes close, but, no cigar, as they say. In fact, a very close call ends in her narrowly escaping the Proconsuless and her thugs, with the diary, of course, and a case of amnesia. And so begins a classic struggle between good and evil, action packed, in, ahem, every sense of the word. And everyone is beautiful.
The two heroines, Proconsuless and Jodelle, are in no way discreetly inspired by chanteuses Francois Hardy and Sylvie Vartan. You might notice a few other familiar faces – among them, the Beatles and the Marquis de Sade! And these casting decisions are just a few of a myriad of culturally iconic Easter Eggs hidden throughout. After all, “Guy Peelleart,” according to artist Jim Steranko, “ was to Europe what Andy Warhol was to America – except that Guy had more talent!”
Campy, modernist, and most certainly suggestive, this is an adult comic, chalk full of politics and “high art”. Which makes its deceptively simple “stained glass on paper” style a little cheekier, and a lot more meaningful. This is pop sensibility. Ever so cool, like basically everything French in the sixties.