At this point Alexander Jodorowsky is a living legend. The man has created some iconic art house pictures (El Topo) back when it was crazy to do so, has produced some amazing science fiction graphic novels (Incal, Metabarons) and recently had the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary made about him and his unmade Dune production. The man is very good at breaking new ground, exploring new ideas and seeding his content with an awkward yet naive sexuality. So color me curious when Titan Comics was publishing a 112 page comic written by Jodorowsky set during the days of knights and kings! So how is it, is it good?
Royal Blood (Titan Comics)
Straight up you will open this book and see that the art by Dongzi Lui is a painter’s delight. The imagery is incredibly realistic yet dreamlike and holds all of the theatrical and Shakespearian plotting together in some sort of reality. Originally published in 2010, this is technically two issues combined into a longer story, telling King Alvar’s tale of death, betrayal and love. To say this story is epic may be misleading, because it never feels like a blockbuster. There are no dragons or huge set pieces, but it is still epic. It’s epic because the melodrama is flat out jaw dropping.
After reading this story and chewing on it I had to tell my girlfriend what happens. After five minutes of straight story telling she realized the story went on…and on…and the plot only thickened, weaved in and out of insane ideas from incest to bear attacks to necrophilia. This comic has it all. By the time I finished telling the story, albeit hacked into pieces without as much gusto the actual comic could deliver, she heaved a deep breath and said, “wow, that’s something.” The story is without a doubt melodramatic, but so over the top in places it’s an astoundingly enjoyable read.
If this doesn’t end in sex I’m leaving!
Jodorowsky writes what could have only been a story plotted without thinking it all through. This usually ends in disaster, as the reader finishes the tale nothing makes sense and key elements seem pointless, but that’s not the case here. There are moments where I thought back to the beginning and wondered what their purpose was, but the sheer fact that I’d need to think back to previous moments shows just how robust and complicated the story gets. Instead of lingering too long on a moment—say the moment Alvar realizes he’s banging his daughter while still inside her—the story quickly changes gears and weds them only to open on a scene of Alvar condemning a cardinal who does not agree with the marriage. This quickly spins out to a plot that gets his new wife maimed and so on and so forth.
Ultimately this story is about what life is really about—being kind, loving one another and doing the right thing. I think. There are also themes focused on the insanity of putting all your faith in a king, no matter who is under the crown and the beauty of revenge. No matter what the theme is, it’s all romanticized, from a lover cheating on you to doing what is right for the kingdom. It’s hard to say what the book is about partly because it’s all over the place, but that’s also the beauty of the story in a way. Much like life, this story shows nothing is nailed down, most actions taken are chaotic and unplanned and cutting off your nuts and planting them under a tree makes you younger. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point.
As I said before, Dongzi Lui is a really good artist and nails everything from a creepy hunchbacked ghost to some borderline graphic sex sequences. His ability to draw people is top notch and the landscapes and settings are always very vivid and real. The night sequences are particularly enjoyable as they are cast in blue and look so cold and foreboding. His ability to cast a character driven skin tone should be noted too. When characters are in sex scenes their skin is blush and warm, but when they are coming up with evil plans they are pasty white and nearly deathlike.
Get him a Band Aid!
Is It Good?
Symbolism abound in this exciting and never boring epic of love, death and treachery. I challenge anyone to read this book and be bored for even a second. It’s a page turner, and one that’ll make you think about life and love in different ways.