Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Even More Modesty
Sometimes my nightly ritual involves taking a few more chunks out of the 10,183 Modesty Blaise strips, thoughtfully being reprinted by Titan Books. I've followed the stories from 1963 to 1969, and if anything they're getting better.
How do you evaluate a comic strip? Here you have two innovative, creative, and driven elements -- Jim Holdaway's stark line-work and Peter O'Donnell's endless parade of tangled plots and bizarre villains -- who meshed together perfectly. They knew each other well and, just as importantly, they knew the characters.
I'm not a fan of mystery-thrillers by any means, but O'Donnell has me permanently hooked. Far from being repetitive, each story has a new angle that puts Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin to the test. The fact that he could cram so much into a daily three-panel strip -- and make it engrossing even when collected into books -- is baffling to me.
Simultaneously ahead of its time and the last of its kind, it's cinematic and epic, funny and terrifying, and ultimately touching. I'm sad it's all over, but I still have 31 more years of strips to read.
PS: Peter O'Donnell says that "The Hell Makers" is one of his favourites, and I agree. Willie is kidnapped and tortured with a brain-damaging psychedelic drug, so Modesty teams up with a dusty old cowpoke and his trained eagles. And that's just the beginning...