It is a very wonderful thing for the artwork of Italian artist Sergio Toppi to exist in our world, his brilliance extremely evident upon the first few pages of The Collector: this beautiful release by Archaia through BOOM! Studios. The Collector is the only single English translated release of Toppi’s works that is available at the moment. Beforehand, the artwork could leave a lasting impression within the French or Italian editions, but now, the words of Toppi can be shared in English alongside his great visuals.
Upon gazing ones eyes on the stark penciling of Toppi, there is an immediate sense of life and texture with the images. You can almost feel the rough edgings of the trees and rocks, you can hear the calm pattering of the water, and you most definitely feel the squeezing of the triggers and the tightening of muscles when guns are fired. Toppi’s lines have a unique life to them – rough on the surface but provide a three dimensional depth to the characters and their surroundings. The impact of Toppi is very evident by rightfully having Sean Gordon Murphy provide an introduction for The Collector. Murphy mentions that Toppi’s lines really do have a life to themselves, creating a sense of movement. He also firmly respects Toppi as an innovator of the comic medium, whom experimented with the art form by creating order with chaos. This combination of order and chaos becomes a perfect platform, embodying not only the art of Toppi, but the stories within The Collector as well.
This collection of The Collector consists of five chapters; each telling a stand-alone tale of a very mysterious individual whom is known and mentioned by others as the very title of this release. The Collector is a man of solitude whose appearance is that of a cowboy, graced by a moustache that would be given the nod of approval by the likes of Sam Elliott. He is an unnamed collector of things that have a deep personal meaning to him, preferring to set these objects aside for nobody to see again. The Collector views those that show off what they have collected through ones travels and adventures as a very petty and juvenile way of proving ones worth. His skills present him as combination of Batman, with his timely gadgets, and part Indiana Jones, with his way with words and distinct ambition. Greed and chauvinism don’t drive The Collector, unlike many other characters he comes across, and instead sees a unique value in the lives that these objects have affected and how exactly these things have gained such a notoriety. Ranging from a peace pipe, a necklace, and jewels amongst others, there is a very mystical and historical based connection that these objects share.
There is a very cinematic feel to the stories within The Collector that one can almost hear the twanging of a guitar and the whistling of Ennio Morricone’s compositions within a Sergio Leone film, especially amongst the desert landscapes. The Collector is constantly found amongst the various exotic locales of the places he visits, retrieving information through various village tribes whom are fighting to maintain their land as well as the local gunslingers or armies that threaten. Toppi creates a very real world that feels close to our own past history, showcasing the violent circumstances of colonialism that are claimed through gunfire and greed. The virtues and vices of the many individuals gracing the pages of The Collector are at the forefront through these mystical objects that drive opposites to attract.