Recently, in an interview with Comics Alliance, current Marvel super-scribe Matt Fraction spoke of his previous work Casanova. He described it as still being the most personal work of his and that he used it as a calling card once when he met the Hernandez Brothers. It got me thinking, what one comic could each creator use as their specific calling card, what is their pinnacle of achievement in the craft? I thought I’d go through some of my favourite creators and work out their calling cards, and try to describe why they should use that story.
Be warned this is just a rough, and personal, guide through a creator and what I view as their calling card work. Feel free to have your say in the comments below, discussion on this topic is encouraged, and possibly even vital. And I know I've probably banged on enough about Casanova (with a Hype Machine and review) so far but I thought it best to launch this series with the creator who inspired it.
Matt Fraction – Casanova: Luxuria
When it comes to Matt Fraction it has always begun and ended with Casanova. It’s a phenomenal story of psychedelic spy-fu that takes extreme liberties with the medium and delivers a story that is both face melting and mind bending in quality and tone. If you only read the first trade collection of Casanova, which includes the first arc (Luxuria) in its entire 7 issues, then you will suddenly have a very good understanding of not only the entire universe that Fraction crated and how the people operate within it but you’ll also be given a piece of the writer. The work is so heartfelt and earnest, both in good ways, that you feel like you’re the only one getting to see this story unfold; which ironically isn’t far from the truth as sales would indicate that only a few thousand people in the world would have read the same story.
This story sums up who Matt Fraction really is as a writer, and even who he hopes to be as well. It’s hyperdense as it presents a multitude of realities and characters very quickly and each player in the game has their own stylistic voice and their own terrible vice in life to contend with. Fraction uses personal captions from the characters breaking the fourth wall to give us more behind the story. The language is break neck fast and if you can’t keep up then you’ll miss some snappy one liners as well as some extremely fantastic concepts. Fraction is a smart man, no doubt about it, and here he shows you. He’s either rubbing our face in the superiority it or he’s letting you enjoy the vastness of it’s majesty. How you take it kind of depends on you.
If you were lucky enough to read the series in single issues then you also got to enjoy the very personal back matter that Fraction fills each issue with. He lets you behind the curtain and it’s actually a more rewarding experience than usual. He’s candid and well spoken and you feel a part of the small studio system creating this comic. Many will argue the second story arc, Gula, is the superior work, but I feel that as a calling card Luxuria is the more holistic experience. Not to mention Gula has yet to be collected and no one wants a slippery stack of floppies as a calling card. If you are at all interested in the current or recent works of Matt Fraction then you owe it to yourself to dip a toe in the Casanova waters, they’re icy but it’ll toughen you up a little. It also helps that if you haven't dug Fraction's work on Iron Man or Uncanny X-Men this title is so mindblowingly better than all of that stuff combined.
I’d suggest Casanova to any fan of a comic that’s not just about capes and cowls. This is a frenetic look into the mind of a genius and the wicked world it can create when it thinks it is unfettered. And considering that Marvel's Icon imprint is now reprinting all of Casanova in large $3.99 issues, with new back matter, I can only hope that people get in on the ground floor this time around. Did you check out the rereleased Casanova debut issue? Do you think this is Fraction's calling card work? Let us know in the comments.