Friday, 26 February 2016
Remember Goldtiger? In the 1960s, this newspaper serial from writer Louis Schaeffer and artist Antonio Baretti gained a firm cult following, though never achieved the popularity of its better-known competitor Modesty Blaise. Creative differences between all involved meant it was cut short, leading to Baretti suffering a mental breakdown.
Of course, none of that really happened – in this new book from Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, the grumpy Schaeffer and egotistical Baretti are as much a part of the fiction as fashion designers-cum-mercenaries Lily Gold and Jack Tiger. The book presents The Poseidon Complex, a serial in which Lily and Jack face a crocodile-skinned supervillain who’s developing a laser that turns objects into liquid. Around this strip, it provides us with a meta-story following the chaos behind the scenes of Goldtiger, incorporating letters, interview transcripts, and various other historical documents.
The strip itself is a kitschy period adventure, in which both Adams’ sensational writing and Broxton’s simple but lurid art capture the tropes of the source material perfectly; though unsophisticated compared to the comics of today, it’ll provide nostalgic glee to those familiar with the genre.
Goldtiger really shines, however, in the meta-story, simultaneously a hilarious mocking of ‘60s attitudes and a character study of two highly flawed artists who were a terrible fit for each other. The book’s two strands intertwine very cleverly; at one point, Baretti draws himself into the strip, explaining directly to its readers how he’s skipped a slow, boring section of Schaeffer’s script. Schaeffer attempted to regain control, the meta-story tells us, by sketching out later scenes himself, at which Baretti threw a hissy fit and sent off the writer’s sketches as the finished product, leaving the strip amusingly messy.
Goldtiger is a fantastically presented volume, with its collection of documents convincing enough to trick you into thinking this excruciatingly catastrophic creative collaboration is all too real. Using the framing device of a lovingly constructed pastiche of a ‘60s serial, Adams and Broxton have brought us one of the most original and fascinating comics volumes of 2016 so far.
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