Self Published 2018
Written by Jon Judy
Written, Coloured & Lettered by Sean McArdle
Illustrated by Dexter Wee
Charlie Chaplin – comic, filmmaker, and raconteur – didn’t become the world’s biggest star by courting controversy, but when he comes face-to-face with the horrors of Hitler, he feels compelled to get off the sidelines and get involved. And then Charlie is approached by FDR himself with a special assignment. His mission, if he chooses to accept it: create a propaganda film to drum up public support for joining the war in Europe. And so Charlie goes from movie maker to provocateur, traveling the world and dodging danger to complete his film. With the help of undercover agent Hedy Lamarr, her handler Errol Flynn, and British patriot Alfred Hitchcock, Chaplin faces down American fascists, Nazi spies, and his own massive self-doubt to complete his masterpiece.
It’s been 73 years since the end of WWII which is still recent enough that the last of those involved are slowly dying and yet far enough away that we can tell stories about it both real and imaginary that make it still seem extremely relevant today. It makes me wonder who will tell stories about now and the great orange turd doing is his best to destroy the US from within. Let’s not think about the future, after all we’ve still got to survive the present and admire the past while we can.
Anyone who has been reading my reviews for a while now knows that I am a huge supporter of Alternate History stories. Taking real people and putting them in different roles than they really played in that time makes for interesting reading. Also it is easy to gauge not only the writers skill but also assess his success in taking the characters and reworking their history. So seeing what Sean and co. are able to do here should be interesting and fun to watch unfold. The opening here is great and while it’s still hard to see the treatment of Jews and anyone suspected of being one the character that is Charlie Chaplin comes to life at his finest.
I do like the way the book is structured however I think the segues need more work. When we leave Charlie in Germany and head to California it was like the changing of scenes in a play. Where it ends the lights go down and the set is rearranged and the lights come back up. It doesn’t feel like it really flows just that one part ends and another begins. Later the segue into outside to inside now that’s handled well so we see that they are capable. Otherwise the opening is just a sequence of event with no apparent ties to the story.
I am a big fan of the interiors here. Black and white with shades of grey is really unforgiving to an artist. But I like how we see the varying weights in the linework and I like how strong, crisp and clean said linework is. The composition of the page and how we the see panels utilised so that perspective and angles show us a very very nice eye for storytelling. Backgrounds I wish were utilised more we see a lot of blank behind characters and that’s kind of shame, while I get the whole focus on the character aspect I would like to see them used to expand the scene give us a sense of scope to the story, that outdoor dining and seeing Hedy’s room really made a difference in how we see the story.
I like the characterisation and the way the story moves. The unexpected visit inside Hedy’s very room well that goes to show that the humour he’s famous for still live on. There is a lot to like about this and there is a lot of promise of what’s to come. It is an interesting premise with delightful takes on film stars of days past wrapped up in some stellar interiors.
There will be a Kickstarter soon but you can keep an eye on it here for now. http://thefuhrerandthetramp.com/