It’s been a while in the telling. Feels like an eternity. I remember Tony Bennett of Knockabout saying that Hunt Emerson was hard at work on this back in 2006. A graphic novella adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, by one of the modern masters of cartooning Hunt Emerson.
And it’s everything you’d hope for. It is in two ways, a serious, accurate and specific adaptation of the original text, one man’s imagined travel through Hell, taking in both Christian dogma and Greek imagery to show suffering with a purpose to both warn and inspire – focused on wasted opportunity of life as much as sin.
And then again, it’s broad comedy, satirical, bad punnery, surrealism and just plain foolishness. Basically this is Sergio Aragones, PHD. The closest comic I can compare this to is Bill Messner Loebs and Sam Keith’s Epicurus The Sage, criminally out of print. It is funny, repeatedly funny, with gag upon gag crammed into detail upon detail.
And that’s it’s something that lets you reflect upon your own life, your own worth, your own motivations in life, albeit through a 14th century Italian filter. But one that’s very self knowing, and intentionally full of modern-day anachronism, to the extent that the fourth wall doesn’t so much break as crumble, get reduced to rubble, and fired into the heart of the sun.
Oh and a great excuse for Hunt Emerson to draw Thatcher again. You can tell he’s missed her.