Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cravan by Mike Richardson and Rick Geary (2005)

My next J. St. D. read is Cravan by Mike Richardson and Rick Geary (2005) ["Mystery Man of the Twentieth Century!"]. I had never heard of Arthur Cravan before, and he may just be one of the most unusual, vague, and frustrating historical figures I've read about. Rick Geary's proven way with odd historical figures (particularly his series on historical assassins / serial killers) is a perfect match for this crazy life story.

In fact, give yourself a second and check out Arthur Cravan's wikipedia page. And just try to stop yourself from falling into an internet research hole with the whole Cravan mythology. It's irresistible! Cravan described himself as "a poet, professor, boxer, dandy, flâneur, forger, critic, sailor, prospector, card sharper, lumberjack, bricoleur, thief, editor [and] chauffeur" (cited here), and at least half of those things are actually true! He made a name for himself in the Dada art scene, he rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, he had sooooo many adventures, and then he mysteriously died at sea off the coast of Mexico when he was 31, leaving his pregnant bohemian wife behind. Or did he actually die after all? Much of the fun of the Cravan mythology centers around that controversy, and Geary and Richardson do a good job of explaining the many what if's (which also include a nice John Huston cameo!).

While the graphic novel doesn't slavishly follow every known detail of Cravan's life exactly, it definitely gives you a taste of the man and his world. And it's a damn fun read.

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