cover image Lon Chaney Speaks

Lon Chaney Speaks

Pat Dorian. Pantheon, $25 (160p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4743-5

Dorian’s bold illustrations match the broad strokes of his debut, an “imagined biography” of film legend Lon Chaney (1883–1930), remembered as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” In the introduction, Dorian notes that Chaney’s extreme privacy necessitated taking some artistic license in scripting the details of his portrait from known facts. He sets the stage with Chaney’s childhood in Colorado, raised by parents who were deaf, with the suggestion that their loving relationship imbued Chaney with empathy for the social outcasts he later portrayed with nuance on-screen. Chaney rises from working backstage and performing in vaudeville to launching his career in moving pictures. Milestones from his personal life are filled in, including his miserable first marriage; the birth of his son, Creighton (later to become a known actor in his own right as Lon Chaney, Jr.); and a happy second marriage with devoted wife Hazel. When Chaney achieves a successful film career, he is celebrated by critics and audiences alike for his transformative, often physically taxing makeup artistry in classic films like The Phantom of the Opera and London After Midnight. Dorian’s nostalgic drawing style, reminiscent of cartooning great Syd Hoff, is energetic and accessible. This spirited homage honors Chaney’s life, as well as the silent film era in which he formed his legacy, appealing to cinema and comics fans alike. (Oct.)