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

By Paulo Eleuteri-Serpieri & Raffaele Ambrosio, translated by Alfred Blomgren & Tony Raiola (Blackthorne Publishing)
ISBN: 978-0-932629-03-6

Paulo Eleuteri-Serpieri was born in Venice on February 29th 1944, and grew up to study painting and architecture at the Fine Art Academy in Rome. After graduating in 1966 he became an acclaimed painter and artist before turning to comics in 1975, producing mainly glorious historical dramas of the American West.

Scripted by Raffaele Ambrosio, these were published in Lancio Story and Skorpio whilst the artist further broadened his horizons by illustrating biblical tales in Découvrir la Bible.

From 1980 onwards he embraced science fictional themes and material for L’Eternauta, Il Fumetto and Orient-Express, before creating his landmark signature character Druuna.

Her Junoesque proportions and fantastic adventures have captivated generations of 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”.

Many if not most of the far-out fetishistic adventures have subsequently found their way into English-language translations. As far as I can discover, almost none of his sublime western tales have been similarly embraced. This rare American translation monochrome collection featuring 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’ opens proceedings, detailing the arduous 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.

It’s followed by ‘John and Mary, Mary and John’ which recounts the unique meeting and budding relationship of a grizzled old mountain man and a wild woman hermit. The slow thawing and re-civilising of the traumatised and troubled former squaw and slave is 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, slipshod translation 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.