domingo, 6 de abril de 2008

Fantômas, the Genius of Crime

Fantômas (2006 paperpack)
by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre
France, 1911
ISBN 978-0-14-310484-1

I'm a sucker for a lurid cover, and the near-lookalike above (curiously missing my copy's montage illustration of an enormous Eiffel Tower looming over the city of Paris and not so curiously missing the original poster's menacing depiction of a bloodied dagger) was at least 90% responsible for luring me into the world of the notorious Parisian archvillain known as Fantômas. As luck would have it, my lowbrow tastes were rewarded with a highly entertaining thriller that worked despite mixing the implausible (male characters successfully masquerading as females for extended periods of time) with the even more implausible (Fantômas' unerring ability to escape justice by a variety of increasingly dubious ruses). While John Ashberry's introduction is probably spot on in appraising Allain and Souvestre as "two inspired hacks" (viii), I have to admit that their high cliffhangers-per-chapter ratio and that bad mofo Detective Juve (Fantômas' brilliant but humble nemesis) made this thing fly by pretty quickly. All in all, a fun, deliciously trashy read if not quite "the modern Aeneid" that some would have it! (

4 comentarios:

  1. I love(d) the Fantomas movies (this drives me back to my teens), with Jean Marais, Louis de Funès and Mylène Demongeot (if I remember correctly) as actors... So kitch! ! As a matter of fact I had no idea they were any book.

  2. I haven't seen any of those movies yet, Joan, but I keep hearing great things about them. Sounds like fun! As to the books, there were apparently 31 sequels to the original...some written over the course of a weekend to satisfy the demand (I just checked out a compilation with 4 or 5 more Fantômas titles in French, so I fear I'm on the road to another addiction).

  3. Both Fantômas and Juve are reputed to have died aboard the Titanic in 1912.
    Joan has been to the net again to find the actors.. Fantômas (1964)

    The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also creator of Mandrake the Magician. Is this something different?

  4. Merike, I think the only thing Fantômas and the Phantom had in common was their masked disguises because the first guy was a criminal and the second one a crime fighter. Joan apparently grew up watching some of the later Fantômas movies, all lots of cheesy fun from what I understand, but the one I most want to see is the silent serial from 1913-14 directed by Louis Feuillade of "Les Vampires" and "Judex" fame (it supposedly was a huge influence on both the surrealists and assorted French filmmakers from the nouvelle vague generation). Anyway, thanks for the question, the visit and the Feedjit map/live traffic ideas which I borrowed from your own blog a couple of days ago. Fins aviat!