Sunday, July 1, 2012

'Caligula': Volume 1: by By: David Lapham (author) and German Nobile (Illustrator)

I had not heard of this series until I saw it in a publishers catalog.  I enjoy reading fiction novel books about Rome and I do enjoy a good graphic novel from time to time.  This one combines both and the experience was… Banshee-esque.  I wanted to scream but what the hell good would that do?  Enjoyable but very… monstrous.  It goes without saying that anything entitled ‘Caligula’ is bound to be bloody, brutal, and animalistic.  Ohhhhh yes.  The drawings are dark, the violence spills out on every page, and the sexual brutality is gruesome.  Even knowing the Caligula had “interesting” sexual tastes, I was still shocked at a number of things I saw and read in this book.

And the interesting part is that the violence wasn’t ALL “in your face”.  Oh it’s there mind you, but a lot of it is implied and more than a few times we see the aftermath of Caligula’s appetite.  How can the aftermath of an assault be worse than the actual assaul?  Read this graphic novel.  But as I was reading this book one of the most interesting things that stood out to me were the facial expressions of Caligula.  Knowing most authors (the good ones anyways) study, write, and rewrite their work, I would have to assume that artist do the same.  With that assumption I am awed with appreciation of the thoughts that went into the expressions of Caligula.  Hauntingly brutal is probably a pretty close description.  I heard somewhere that comics stare into a mirror to perfect their facial expressions.  German must have stared into the face of Satan.

As a book reader I get a different feeling when reading a graphic novel, and seeing its story visually is one form of beauty.  Trying to figure out the underlying meaning of a madman such as Caligula is another.  Anyone who says that reading a book is “only reading a book” just doesn’t get it.  Anyone who says ‘Caligula’ is just another graphic novel REALLY doesn’t get it.  The man was vile in every since of the word and he did his best to personify its meaning over the course of his lustfully debaucherous life.  This graphic novel is, by no means, a history of Caligula’ but rather a sick, twisted, entertaining view on a man as inhuman as few that have walked this earth. 

How anyone could question the sanity of this man is beyond me.  But if you are one of the few that do I’ll leave you with this:  Caligula’s horse.  Incitatus.  It could talk.  It had the same unquenchable sexual thirst and needs of his master.  Take from that what you will. 


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