By Griffo & Marcus (Deligne)
Here’s another oddity from the experimental 1980s when a number of European publishing houses had a concerted go at cracking the highly resistant US comicbook market. The Bob Wilson in question is not the revered Arsenal and England goalkeeper, nor the character in the Fatal Fury videogame, but rather a two-fisted adventurer and Soldier of Fortune.
The series debuted in 1982, in Le Journal Illustré le Plus Grand du Monde as ‘L’Ordre du Dragon Noir’, written by Marcus (nom de plume for Danny de Laet) and drawn by the esteemed Werner “Griffo” Goelen, whose works include ‘Modeste et Pompon’, ‘S.O.S. Bonheur’, ‘Munro’ and, with Jean Dufaux, ‘Béatifica Blues’, ‘Samba Bugatti’ and ‘Giacomo C’ as well as many others, all of which really should be available in a language I’m actually conversant with or fluent in.
Bob Wilson is a period thriller, and this volume, set during the days of Prohibition, follows him and his pal Dashiel Hammett as they battle the Chinatown Tongs to thwart the plans of the insidious oriental mastermind Black Dragon, before the hero sets out to track the villain all the way back to his lair in war-torn, civil-war China.
Wilson sports a grand line of brothers-in-arms as his protracted war takes him across the globe alongside such historical figures as Aristotle Onassis, John Flanders (one of many pen-names for Belgian writer Jean Ray) and Chiang Kai-shek, as well as the odd fictional character such as Buddy Longway (a popular continental Western hero).
It’s an infectious blend of all-action, gritty adult pulp-fiction, highly cinematic, fabulously exotic and very, very stylish in the manner those darned Europeans have made all their own, and I would dearly love to see the publishers give it another go in these days of global, not national, market-places…
© 1885 Editions Michel Deligne S.A. and Griffo & Marcus. All Rights Reserved.