You want to know which cartoonists rank among the very best? Well, consider Sergio Toppi (11 October 1932 – 21 August 2012), a masterful Italian cartoonist and illustrator. His work will have you in awe. And, among his best work, “The Collector” is a must-read. It is now available, for the first time, in English, published in a hardcover edition by Archaia, an imprint of Boom! Studios. Let’s have a look.
There’s a sense of order to the clean compositions and fine outlines but then you get a close look at the cross-hatching and you come head on with the wild disorder firmly packed within the confines of a torso or top hat. As Sean Gordon Murphy so lovingly explains in his introduction, this is a dazzling display from a master who knows how to harness disorder. It’s a style, a vision, that has inspired other greats like Zaffino, Sienkiewicz, Simonson, and Cohen.
“The Collector” is Toppi’s longest-running original series and debuted in 1984. We easily fall into the story as we’re guided by an intrepid journalist on the hunt for the mysterious and elusive Collector. This is Northwestern Missouri, 1880. Our reporter, Marcus Twiggham-Peel, hails from England and works for the Pipesmoker’s Weekly of Birmingham. The Collector had been monitoring Marcus for some time when he finally introduces himself by taking a direct shot at a trout that Marcus had an uncertain grasp of with his fishing line. It proves to be the start of a friendship with The Collector in charge. He won’t be interviewed while he’s preparing the trout dinner. Nor will he reveal his true name or nationality. But, once Marcus has proven a genuine interest, he will share some details about his latest quest.
You see, The Collector is independently wealthy. He only collects because its a passion of his. And he only collects items with a certain character and story to tell. He then hunts the item down, whether in the salons of Paris or the jungles of Borneo, adds it to his collection, and relaxes with a shot of bourbon. For his latest quest, he seeks out a most distinctive peace pipe of Native American lore. It is a pipe that great chiefs have been able to see glimpses of the future in the curls of its smoke. If this sounds like an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, you’d be on the right track.
The Collector is available as of October 15. And you can find it at Boom! Studios right here.