Oscar Martin was the screenwriter and cartoonist for Tom & Jerry thirty years. He has Warner Bros’ Lifetime Achievement Award for contributing to character development and also worked on Mickey, Lion King, Woody Woodpecker and other classics.
The same Oscar Martin has a graphic novel called Solo: The Survivors of Chaos in which mutant animals battle to the death over scraps of food in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland.
So, yeah, although every single reviewer is going to do it – I’m going to use the phrase “Tom & Jerry meets Mad Max” to summarise Solo!
Solo: The Survivors of Chaos isn’t a new book. It was first published in Spanish back in 1992. It’s been picked up by Titan Comics and a new English language first edition is heading to the shelves. The credits are easy; Martin created, wrote, drew and helped with the colouring of the book. Pau Rodriguez did the translation.
I think, though, if you only had an original Spanish copy and couldn’t read a word of it that you’ll be able to enjoy this melee romp through the chaos and you would get the message of the book.
What’s the message? Life is tough, learn how to fight back and then all will be well.
I think that’s the moral of Tom & Jerry too.
We start off with an artful display of hunting. It drops us into the deep end of this chaotic world and shows us just how tough the surviving anthro-rats need to be.
In no short order, we get our Thunderdome moment. That means gladiatorial style fights and a chance of a better tomorrow.
Whether it’s Tom & Jerry or Mad Max-ratman, Oscar Martin can certainly draw action sequences. Our solo hero doesn’t look like much, not at first, but he is quick and deadly. So is the pacing of the fights. There’s not even a hint of a melodramatic pause. Problems meet a brutal and bloody end.
In Solo violence is life. The art reflects this. As you read through the book, you’ll not see bright colours. Skies are monotone. Clothing is muted. In the winter everything is an icy blue. When the snow retreats; everything is mud. Except when there’s death. Blood is a dark red, a contrast of deep colour against a world of muted tones.
If you were hoping that after years of leading Tom & Jerry, Martin would finally want to get rid of the rodent then, sorry to say, this isn’t the graphic novel for you. There may be characters along the way, but this is the story of our Solo rat and the fights he has.
Is there anything more profound? That some things might be worth fighting for? That you don’t get those things unless you’re prepared to fight for them? I’m not sure. My main takeaway is that there’s always someone faster than you.
While I’m not going to award Solo praises for depth, philosophical argument or enlightened understanding, I am going to say it’s a great romp. It turns blades into ballet and combat into a craft. I started reading late one night, intending only to make a start and I read it all the way through in one sitting.
Fancy post-apocalyptic action? You’ll likely enjoy Solo.
My copy of Solo: The Survivors of Chaos was provided for review. The graphic novel, published by Titan Comics, is due in stores on January the 15th.
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