In the early 1960s, while Russ Meyer was busy carving out his niche as the godfather of American cinematic sleaze and coining the term ‘sexploitation’, a Belgian advertising dropout was single-handedly turning a previously childish medium into a hotbed of smut and witty narrative. The Adventures of Jodelle was a comic book unlike anything the world had ever seen. Gone were the spandex-clad superheroes and simple, good vs evil, narrative structures upon which so many children had squandered their free time and in replacement the very first adult-themed graphic novel, complete with ample chests, Roman setting and an allegorical spy narrative.
It’s not just the choice of medium that was ahead of its time, Guy Peellaert, Jodelle’s creator was using colour palettes that had only recently been exploited in Pop Art, and cinematic narrative techniques that only the most avant-garde of film-makers would have understood. Peellaert was every bit the master of his craft and with enviable vision and flair managed to transform a previously safe medium into something exciting and dangerous.
If you missed it the first time round (of course you did, it was the 1960s) then you’re in luck because Fantagraphics have just released a newly-translated complete collection of The Adventures of Jodelle that includes an in-depth look at Peellaert’s work as a whole, before and after he brought soft porn and bright colours to the masses. It’s intoxicating stuff!