A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What We're Reading: Torpedo 1936

          Years ago, when my brother and I worked diligently to amass an impressive collection of golden, silver, and bronze age comic books (and, in all fairness, my brother definitely worked harder at it than I did), he introduced me to a book titled Torpedo 1936. An adult magazine filled with sex, violence, and snappy banter, I took an immediate liking to the the main character, Luca Torelli, alias The Torpedo, and his lackluster sidekick Rascal. My brother recently dropped off the collected stories so I could take another look. Even after all these years, its easy to see why An Uptown Dandy took an immediate liking to Torpedo 1936.

           The series was originally developed by the spaniard Enrique Sanchez Abuli and veteran artist Alex Toth, who illustrated the first two stories in 1981. Unfortunately, the collaboration ended when Toth decided he did not share Abulí's darkly cynical view of mankind and withdrew from the project. He was then replaced by Jordi Bernet, whose gritty style was well suited to depicting the adventures of the anti-hero Luca Torelli, a heartless hit man, and his pal Rascal, in the violent New York underworld of the Depression era.

          After taking another look at the stories, my first impression was how faithful Abuli and Bernet were to the gangster style of the era. I've already posted in some detail about George Raft and his representative underworld "light suit, dark shirt, light tie" combination, and here we see it illustrated to remarkable effect by Bernet. I've added a photo below of Raft in a similar outfit from the 1939 film, Each Dawn I Die.

George Raft and James Cagney, Each Dawn I Die (1939)

          Clearly, Abuli and Bernet researched the films and styles of the era. The desire to stay true to the "feel" of the era literallycomes across on each panel. On the page below, we can see notations that indicate exactly how much attention to detail was paid to the little things - Torelli  wears a Stetson felt hat, he smokes a camel cigarette, his tie has a stick-pin, and of course he wears the light suit with the hard finish (almost exactly what Raft is wearing in the photo above, down to the dark shirt cuff with light, round links) with a flower in his lapel. The classic tough-guy look is completed by Torelli's pair of "kid gloves."

          Long out of print, these stories are worth tracking down in the complete English set shown above or in the original Spanish-language books. If you're a fan of great artwork, noire-type writing, and the men's fashion of the 1930s, you'll absolutely love Torpedo 1936.


  1. Awesome post Danny, for those of you out there who are interested in reading these fine books, IDW has reprinted them on beautiful stock with glossy paper and rich dark black inks. A must have for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life.

  2. Thanks John! That re-printing sounds nice, I may need to pick those up myself :-)