Caravaggio: A Light Before the Darkness

Ken Mora and Cyrus Mesarcia. Markosia Enterprises, $25.99 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-1-913359-56-0
Based on Mora’s unproduced screenplay and supported by crowdfunding, this hammy biography of Baroque painter Michelangelo da Caravaggio is chock-full of swaggering personalities and rapid-pace swashbuckling action sequences including duels, grand escapes, and even a heated tennis match. It’s the 17th century, and Caravaggio flees across Italy, Spain, and Malta, narrowly escaping sexual and religious scandals, the hotheaded killing of a wealthy rival, and a near-fatal kick in the chest by a horse. The painter’s eventual downfall arises from his petulant nature—he’s boorish and boastful even in the face of the Inquisition—and his fiery but forbidden passion for Mario (one of many paramours). “I wish you would practice discretion as much as swordplay,” advises yet another lover, Maria. Mesarcia’s art style blends European fine line and classic adventure comics. In a nod to its subject, he employs Caravaggio’s own favored Chiaroscuro technique by highlighting faces and blackening shadows, producing bold contrasts. Unfortunately, the unprofessional lettering choices work against the composition, giving it all an amateur air. Despite technical flaws, it’s a spirited introduction to Caravaggio’s life and times that should appeal to readers of classic graphic illustrated style comics—and proves Mora’s point: his script would make for a pretty good flick. (Self-published)
Reviewed on : 11/13/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Comics
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