I’m not a pulp reader, I’m not a fan of the western genre, and I didn’t socialize with comics by Hansrudi Wäscher – so what on earth should I do with a Billy Jenkins comic about the adventures of a western hero in pulp magazine style, in a story that wasn’t Could Wäscher do it more unreasonably than that? Well, I enjoyed it, and it turned out that way.
Rainer Gabriel from Düsseldorf, illustrator and author of this issue and obviously a great friend of all of the above, which I don’t care, sent me his 128-page comic book, self-published and distributed by Fanpro. A lover’s relationship in all respects. The main character, Billy Jenkins, is based on a true Western hero, however, who only acted in Germany: Otto Rosenthal, pseudonym Erich Fischer (this is how the name was chosen, when the Jewish descent began to become fatal in Germany) appeared from 1909 until his death In 1954 as an actor in the Wild West shows and finally as an actor in the Wild West shows across Germany. In the “Third Reich” he howled with wolves, because some of the greats of the order were among his admirers. After 1939, he was on the road in German-occupied countries to maintain the Wehrmacht’s forces, and survived the war and the Holocaust.
What a theme, and indeed, Gabriel took a number of still pieces from this life for a gruesome story: In the winter of 1945 in Pomerania, Jenkins is part of the Germans fleeing west from the Red Army and proves himself in the heroic role he has ever played Has passed so far. “Mr. Jenkins ’45 – Billy on the Run’ is a very clever balancing game between reality and fantasy, featuring three levels using different colours: Billy Jenkins dreams of his feats colored blue, and flashbacks to Otto Rosenthal’s actual life in brown, black and white with Solo sprinkles of cochineal is the real work.Gabriel skillfully transfers these three levels into one another.
Graphics in this problem is less successful. To give you an idea, I’ll just link to another review here: that of the commendable illustrated magazine “Alphonse” (https://www.reddition.de/blog/frisch-lesen-archiv/sonstigeverlage2/fg-301-fanpro-billy-jenkins- on-the-escape), with which you can learn more about Billy Jenkins’ media legacy. What Gabrielle does is reminiscent of Yves Chaland’s clumsy attempts in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and what came of it! Only Chaland was young at the time, Gabriel is a little older, and comics of the genre are having a harder time in Germany than in France.
The colorful interior covers of each of the 3 parts of Billy Jenkins’ adventure are so beautiful. This creates the feel of a full chain magazine, although the consistency of the Gabriel doesn’t go so far as to make all three parts the same length. It is presented twice with a page from the archive – it is incomprehensible why the third part is no longer so fun. The covers were inspired by role models such as the Jijé artists or “Simplicissimus,” and if Gabriel’s sense of proportions were more palpable, the comics might also be similarly compelling. However, sometimes one gets the impression that it is just a fan fiction. And it’s not the worst thing either.
The plot is rife with clichés – negative about the Nazis, positive about the Red Army, punctuated by a somewhat naïve group of German refugees and then aged but heroic Jenkins. It shows how subtly Gabriel knows how to use the protagonist’s contradiction in an episode in which Jenkins is shot by two Nazi assassins and left for dead: he survived machine gun fire because a steel corset deflected bullets. Indeed, Otto Rosenthal wore this corset for health reasons in the 1940s.
Gabrielle doesn’t brag about it, he builds it up and leaves it up to the audience to decide what’s real and what’s cool. He also reveals a few suggestions, and some things he would have done better without: such as miserably printed graphics to be found among the main parts, or a full-page picture in half a profile, which one might wish to know who he is: Rosenthal? Or is it Gabriel himself? Or is it a perfect Jenkins drawn? Oh yeah: Another caveat: blood’s flowing in torrents here, and the author seems to like the rough style. You could call it Tarantinoesque, but I tend to be a bit too “tasteless” in some scenes. But overall, this is a book in which one can test one’s own narrative tolerance towards the trivial in the most enjoyable way.