|Posted on April 22, 2011 at 9:00 AM|
Lucky in Love
by George Chieffet & Stephen DeStefano
Published by Fantagraphics
Elegantly drawn in a supremely confident, lively, cartoony black-and-white style that recalls Milt Gross as well as classic Disney animation and comics, Lucky in Love is a unique coming-of-age story that follows its lovable eponymous hero Lucky Testatuda from his rascally teen years in Hoboken, New Jersey’s Little Italy to his induction into the air force and subsequent wartime experiences.
Lucky in Love shows what happens when a feisty young man merges his erotic fantasies with 1940s film myths: Moving from the ’40s to present day (from which an aged, present-day Lucky looks back on his life), the book contrasts Lucky’s vivid fantasy life with the darker reality of World War II (including a masterful set-piece sequence that echoes Harvey Kurtzman’s classic EC war comics) as well as his first fumbling, cash-on-the-barrelhead sexual experiences. Ultimately the poignant discoveries Lucky makes on his way to adulthood bestow upon him a very different kind of heroism than that of which he had dreamed...
Review by PD Houston:
Stephen DeStefano is nominated for the 2011 Eisner Awards for his artwork on this book and understandably so. He did some amazing work on this book. I've long been a fan of DeStefano's work stretching all the way back to his work on "Mazing Man published by DC Comics in the '80's. While DeStefano never won any great recognition by the mass comic reading audience to any great extent, true comic art fans have always recognized Destefano's work as quality stuff.
His style on this book works so well, the feel and mood of the 1940's is dutifully established. The exaggeration in his cartoony style on this book especially with the characters is both hilarious and beautiful. From the linework, to the panel and page design, Destefano just did an amazing job. Simply beautiful work here. The kind of work that leaves you lingering over every little line or design.
Now the story about a young Italian man coming of age in the era of World War 2 is an interesting one. It's basically a well written story, and captures the life of our main character pretty well. That being said there was something about this story that left me wanting. Something about the main character still seems incomplete to me. Like the story's still holding out on us. Maybe it'll deliver in volume two of this story, I don't know. Maybe the auto-bio stories I'm used to tend to go into such pedantic detail, I'm expecting more from this basically auto-bio story. This story feels more like fiction than it does real life. Is it because of the cartoony art? Maybe, but the characterization by Destefano is glorious, especially in the movements of the character. Still though the story for me has garnered no great sympathy from me for the lead character, I can't exactly pinpoint why.
The story portrays this sense of old-timey-ness so well, and that could possibly be the reason why I found it overall a bit boring. It's not a bad story, and maybe I'm not the perfect fan for this type of book, but by the time I finished the book, I realized I was a bit bored by it all. How this book ended also did no favors for it in my eyes. I realize it's just book one, but do you really want to end this volume in such an incomplete way? It's not like it ended on a cliffhanger or in a way that leads into a second volume, it's more like it ended in the middle of a thought, or the middle of a scene. Very weird. If this book was done by lesser known artists would Fantagraphics have allowed them to end the book in this manner? What if I don't read volume 2? What if for some reason it never comes out? You'd be happy with the book ending so incomplete like? Nevertheless these are my own opinions and other people could come to completely different conclusions. I will pick up volume 2 just because of DeStefano's art though as he's doing something really amazing with this book.