Stories of the West Book 1: Three Women at the Frontier

By Paulo Eleuteri-Serpieri, translated by Alfred Blomgren & Tony Raiola (Marvel)
ISBN: 0-932629-03-2

Paulo Eleuteri-Serpieri was born in Venice on February 29th 1944, and studied painting and architecture at the Fine Art Academy in Rome, graduating in 1966. He became an acclaimed painter before turning to comics in 1975 with historical dramas of the American West, scripted by Raffaele Ambrosio, which were published in Lancio Story and Skorpio as well as illustrating biblical tales in Découvrir la Bible.

From 1980 he turned to science fiction material for L’Eternauta, Il Fumetto and Orient-Express, before creating his landmark signature character Druuna, whose Junoesque proportions and fantastic adventures have captivated readers all over the world in such classics of pulchritudinous fantasy as Morbus Gravis, Creatura, Carnivora, Mandragora, Aphrodisia, Obsession, Druuna X and Croquis.

In Europe, where such superlatives are cherished, Serpieri’s astonishing ability to capture the female form in line and in colour has won him the title (although who else would want it is moot) of “Master of the Ass”, and this rare American translation of some of those early Western sagas certainly has a few beautiful nudes within its pages, but these two stories are worth looking at for more than that.

The eponymous ‘Three Women at the Frontier’ details the journey of a group of women literally exported to edge of American Civilisation at the close of the 19th century and how they wrested control of their lives and destinies from the callous, patronising men who thought they knew best, whilst ‘John and Mary, Mary and John’ details the unique meeting and budding relationship of a grizzled old mountain man and a wild woman hermit, once a squaw and slave; certainly one of the most intriguing and refreshing romances I’ve ever read.

Quirky, compelling and superbly underplayed, with some of the best drawing you’ll ever see, this is a fabulous lost treasure, only slightly marred by its appalling reproduction and too-casual proofreading. These wonderful tales of the west (and all those others untranslated as yet) are desperately in need of a high quality English language edition, but until then this will have to suffice…
© 1985 Paulo Eleuteri-Serpieri. All rights reserved.