Review Index

ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY, GEORGES BESS (Humanoids-Rebellion; 2004/5)

You likely know the Chilean-born, Paris-based Alexandro (or Alejandro) Jodorowsky best as the writer-director of films like EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and SANTA SANGRE.  Alas, not too many Jodorowsky buffs are aware that he’s also an extremely prolific scripter of European comics.  Several of his graphic works--THE INCAL, THE METABARONS, MADWOMAN OF THE SACRED HEART and BORGIA, to name a few--have appeared in English translations over the years, although most are now difficult to find.  That’s true of SON OF THE GUN, initially published as a four part hardcover series by Humanoids and then as a two volume trade paperback by Humanoids-Rebellion.  Both versions are now out of print. 

      A shame, really, as SON OF THE GUN is among the absolute finest of Jodorowsky’s comic work.  The illustrator was Georges Bess (who also did the graphics for Jodorowsky’s WHITE LAMA, also available as a two-parter from Humanoids-Rebellion and also out of print), who provides dense, colorful graphics that compellingly alternate minutely detailed vistas with extreme close-ups in the manner of a big screen epic.  The epic format is fully in keeping with the panoramic narrative, which spans the lifetime of one Juan Solo, a hard man who begins life as an abandoned infant with a tail(!), grows into a criminal sociopath and eventually becomes a (literal) saint. 

      As a baby Juan is discovered in a junk yard by a dwarf who gives the child a gun barrel to suckle.  Guns play an integral part in Juan’s life, as he grows into a petty gangster and works his way up to becoming a bodyguard to a corrupt Spanish governor.  But Juan is in for a double whammy when his underlings turn on him, and he discovers that a whore he’s banging just happens to be his mother! 

      From there Juan embarks on an extremely rocky road to redemption.  He flees into the desert where he nearly dies of thirst, and is saved by a statue in a remote church depicting a man who happens to have a tail like Juan’s.  Juan thus finds himself worshipped as a god by the gullible populace, and takes the opportunity to become a phony faith healer, which only hastens his downward spiral.  But the promised redemption is indeed in the works, and it’s a doozy--not to give anything away, but it involves a crucifixion. 

      I think it goes without saying that this is deranged stuff from a wildly idiosyncratic, near-inhumanly fertile imagination.  The artwork for its part fully matches Jodorowsky’s wildness in its X-rated depictions of sex, nudity and gore.

      Furthermore, the above plot summary only covers a small portion of this story’s demented delights.  Others include a severed hand dropped into a punch bowl with the caveat “It’ll add flavor to the sangria!”; a man’s decapitated head served to a mob boss on a platter; the ghost of one of Juan Solo’s victims following him wherever he goes; and Juan’s mom forcing him to stand by her bed wagging his tail as she turns tricks.

      But for all that SON OF THE GUN has a genuine resonance.  Jodorowsky’s portrayal of a deeply flawed man desperately seeking redemption is thoughtful and even poignant, not to mention ingenious in its mixture of Christian and Buddhist iconographies by an author whose knowledge of both faiths is evidently voluminous.  It makes for a crazed yet deeply felt exercise in excess that, for those who can handle it, is well worth tracking down.