No Pasaran Volume 3 TP Vittorio Giardino NBM 1st print


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No Pasaran GN (2001-2008 NBM) #3
Published May 2008 by NBM.

Volume 3 -1st printing.
Story and art by Vittorio Giardino.

The much anticipated conclusion! Max Friedman begins the last stage of his stay in Republican Spain. The Communists are dividing into internecine camps as the red army is gradually losing ground to Franco’s troops. Friedman returns to Barcelona, and continues the search for his friend Treves. But is Treves a deserter, as his communist colleagues stated? Or is he continuing his battle against Franco? This exciting wartime story comes to its climax!

Softcover, 8 1/2-in. x 11 1/2-in., 72 pages, full color.
Publisher: NBM

If you read graphic novels and haven’t discovered the richness of Vittorio Giardino, his writing is an example of “true stories in cartoon form.” Actually, “cartoon” as the term is traditionally understood locally demeans his accomplishment.

I hope those who already know his work have found “Hungarian Rhapsody,” “Orient Gateway,” and the first two volumes of “No Pasaran.” If you haven’t, find them and read them (slowly) – get the flavor of the 1930s without the usual American inflection on the decade. This is Europe – where the action had been, and would be again. (No Weimar Republic/Berlin cabaret blues to date, either.) Max Friedman (Fridman) is a unique invention: French Jew, tobacco merchant, sadly separated from his wife but with custody of his daughter (who never mentions her mother), former member of the Foreign Brigade fighting on the side of the Spanish Republic under attack from the Nazi-supported Franconistas – and, oh yes, an “amateur spy” of equal parts skill and luck, and a woman magnet. Too good to be true? Well, he’s a special kind of hero; as another graphic novelist once described his own work, Giardino writes about reality, only more so.

As per the introduction, the search for a former fellow combatant is the focus of this novel, but there are enough side stories and locales to keep things interesting, with a typical Giardino crew of persons who are rarely what they seem (much like Friedman). Intrigue takes place within a world in which various parties oversee, even control part of the whole, but are themselves often deceived. There are some basics on the in-fighting of the political scene for those of us (me included) who were taught a highly reductive form of modern European history.

Interesting, the Belgian reporter Clair is (I believe intentionally) the least intriguing of Giardino’s female characters – immature (“naive”) in a way that makes Friedman’s caution as much a part of his relationship with her as any ethics on his part. Then again, this does take place later than the previous novels, so perhaps Friedman is older and wiser about things romantic. (I think Ethel from “Rhapsody” would have been the one for him, had he been so inclined. I think he did more than “trust her.” But that was then.)

Finally – those who would believe that cinematic versions of graphic novels could outdo the original might wish to consider the history of that genre. So many disasters – whether the story is retained, or altered a bit, or altered a lot, or is entirely new – and we already have in our minds the characters’ faces and movements and feelings, and we each have our own voices for them. Who wants them “fixed” in a “wrong way”? Once in a great while, a book becomes a better film; but graphic novels at their best are so well designed that making them “real” is going to be a letdown. With this story, there would be just too many temptations, both for cutting “minor” but crucial characters and scenes — and what screenwriter/director could resist embellishing the Friedman/Clair relationship, and even change the novel’s ending?

Hey, even four volumes of “A Jew in Communist Prague” (Giardino’s major non-Friedman work) left me begging for the next installment (no matter how historically logical the close of it was). Oh well, I assume it’s not coming. And whatever is left hanging in “No Pasaran” will stay that way too. I can only hope for a new great story out of Giardino’s mind, hands, and heart, and soon!

Near mint condition. 1st print.