cover image Caravaggio, Vol. 1: The Palette and the Sword

Caravaggio, Vol. 1: The Palette and the Sword

Milo Manara, trans from the Italian by Brandon Kander. Dark Horse, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-50670-339-8

This remarkably lovely comic covers the first part of the turbulent career of 17th-century artist Caravaggio, who was known for his dramatic mastery of light and shadow in huge religious paintings—and for his shameless carousing with the riffraff of Rome. As Italian cartoonist Manara (Indian Summer) sees him, Caravaggio cared about fulfilling the demands of his art more than anything else, and he was perfectly willing to use a beautiful, sweet-looking streetwalker as a model for the Virgin Mary. He was also willing to defend his friends against their exploiters, with his sword if necessary. Manara is best known for his erotic work, but this is a showcase for his storytelling mastery. It’s sprinkled with samples of Caravaggio’s own work, set in meticulously rendered scenes based on Piranesi’s etchings of monumental Roman ruins, and full of wonderfully detailed characters. This is a thoughtful and delightful exploration of how someone can create great art in the middle of chaos. (Apr.)