Sunday, March 7, 2010

Foreign Favorites: Torpedo

Josep Toutain loved the classic Warner Brothers gangster movies of his youth, so in the early eighties he conceived the idea of a similar antihero and the brutal tales of Torpedo were born. Enrique Sanchez Abuli claimed the writing credits while America illustrator Alex Toth did the drawings for Torpedo's first appearance in a Spanish edition of Warren's Creepy magazine in 1982. The story begins with an orphan boy from southern Italy, Luca Torelli, who grew up in the mean streets of 1936 America, turning to a life of crime for survival. Petty theft and extortion lead to robbery and murder as he moved up the ranks as a top hitman for the mob. After setting the look of the feature, and only two episodes, Toth decided to leave the project in protest over the comic's excessive violence. Fortunately, Toth's successor, Jordi Burnet, quickly made the series his own with his lush moody panels of stylized violence and 1930s period authenticity. An instant international success, the black-and-white stories eventually got the full color treatment, which was somewhat distracting from the earlier moody dark tone of the feature, but could not overshadow the power, cynicism and despair of these dynamic mobster tales.

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