Manchette’s Fatale (Cabanes & Headline); Ripper Jax (O’Donnell & Romero)

Sex and violence – what not to like? What would aficionados of the adult graphic novel do without the publisher Titan? Here are two exemplary volumes aimed fairly and squarely at the older reader of the form, and both are distinguished by sharp and striking writing (and intelligent adaptation, in the case of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s remarkable crime novel dealing with a ruthless female killer working her way through victims in a sedate French seaside town). The graphic novel version adroitly captures the cool existential prose of the original, and is distinguished by some very stylish and – which, prudish readers, be warned — sexually explicit, with its scenes of masturbation (and urination that looks like masturbation – you’ll have to see it to know what I mean).

The long-running reissue series of Peter O’Donnell’s exemplary Modesty Blaise strips is approaching its end, but the most astonishing thing about the sequence is the writer’s seemingly inexhaustible capacity for reinventing the basic tropes of the adventure tales featuring his resourceful heroine and her male sidekick Willie Garvin. The same, perhaps, cannot be said for the illustrator Enric Badia Romero at this later stage in his career, but his work (though now drawn by rote) is still strong and efficient, doing considerable service to O’Donnell’s tales. There are three stories collected here, Ripper Jax, The Maori Contract and Honeygun.

Manchette’s Fatale (Cabanes & Headline) & Ripper Jax (O’Donnell & Romero) are published by Titan

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