Saturday, March 19, 2016


What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Goldtiger (Rebellion, 2016).

If there's a flaw at all in this very unusual and very fun "collection" - we'll explain why that's not quite the right word - of this long-lost 1960s action comic strip, it's that it might have been even more fun for me five years ago.

I used to do a blog called Reprint This!, and one of the many things that made that kind of tedious in the end - it really did feel like work - was that in making room and news for all the things that I wished to see collected in nice editions, I felt responsible for sharing news about everything else that was being collected. And everything was being collected. IDW has this line called The Library of American Comics that wants to release everything, but it's not just them; there is, or at least there was in 2009-2011, a publisher-in-waiting for every forgotten project. The Heart of Juliet Jones? King Aroo? Who buys all this stuff?

And so naturally, Antonio Barreti and Louis Shaeffer's weird, uncompleted, and rarely-published Goldtiger would finally find a new home on shelves, what with Titan publishing its ninety-ninth Modesty Blaise book, the strip that influenced Goldtiger so very, very much. It was a reaction to Blaise, at least initially, before the paper cancelled it after seeing the first six weeks of strips. It eventually found a home in Malta, but the strip got progressively weirder. Some of the strips that were printed showed Barreti throwing out Shaeffer's script and addressing the readers directly. Some, he didn't bother to finish. Some rough pencils have since been "discovered" to bridge the gaps in publication.

Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, who are credited with "presenting" this old strip, have included a wealth of additional material, including interviews, selections from Shaeffer's novelizations, Barreti's other artwork, all to make some sense of the material. But... well, you might have caught on to the first big wheeze about Goldtiger. It never really existed, not in our world, and it's all a fun meta game that they're playing, using '60s-styled designs and found photos to create this world.

And, because I'm not as clever as Adams and Broxton, that's about as far as I could take this kind of gag, but they take it farther and farther. There's a method and a structure to how they tell this story, and it doesn't just exist as a simply dumped "fake collection." It's an original, hidden, story that uses this format, and I've read it three times now and found new things with each read. It's absolutely charming and really, really smart. I was looking forward to this book, and, honestly, it's better than I had anticipated. Highly recommended.

(Clicking the link in the image will take you to Amazon, where you can purchase the book. A PDF of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review. If you'd like to see your books (typically comics or detective fiction) featured here, send me an email.)

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