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Across The Pond: Anibal 5

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

With the release of Anibal 5 later this month, we wanted to explore some of the history of the title. UK Liaison (and erotic scholar), Tim Pilcher, dives into the past to bring us something from across the pond.

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By the time Alexandro Jodorowsky turned his hand to comics in 1966 he had already achieved more than most ever accomplish in a lifetime. Having moved from Chile to France—and worked as a poet, a playwright, performer, and with entertainment legends Marcel Marceu and Maurice ChevalierJodorowsky then headed to Mexico.


There he teamed up with surrealists Fernando Arrabal and Roland Topor and created the "Panic" art movement. As Jodorowsky recalled, "The Panic Movement was kind of a joke. Topor, Arrabal, and I called everything we did 'Panic.' More than a theory, it was more like a brand."


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As part of the Panic movement he created the comic Anibal 5 with artist, Manuel Moro. Originally published with Theorem (an imprint of Novaro) in Mexico in October 1966, the series featured a scantily clad, over-sexed cyborg secret agent, whose body contained all the weaponry he needed; a sort of super-spy meets The Terminator by way of Flesh Gordon. It was over-the-top, ludicrous, and camp. "Anibal 5 was an artistic concept not an industrial one. I did it for free for Novaro…The Publishing Director of Novaro was an admirer of my theatrical plays. I convinced him to create a sci-fi serial…at a time in Mexico when no one else was producing anything similar… We bet on the color, which made the cover price quite high, plus the theme conflicted readers."



The theme conflicted the publishers as well. The story—for the time—was sexy, and shocking. Jodorowsky was deliberately parodying masculinity and sexuality in a medium that was predominately thought to be "popular, childish, Mexicanista…" To ramp things up further, Moro based Anibal 5's look on Latino movie star heartthrob, Jorge Rivero, who Theorem then slapped on the cover.


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The photo covers of "an actor I didn't admire, an imitator of James Bond, and on the back cover idiot bimbos" irritated the writer. "The editors, without understanding what I was doing, published the photo covers. I fought to change that and I obtained that from #6 the cover would be drawn by Moro. That was good, but it had a bad effect. The owner of Novaro then read my comic and, scandalized, they abruptly ended the serial…" halfway through the 12-issue run.


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But scandal has never been too far from Jodorowsky, and two years after Anibal 5 was released a riot broke out at the Mexican premiere of his first film, Fando and Lis, forcing the director to flee under a hail of stones! The film was subsequently banned in the country. Jodorowsky and Moro went on to collaborate on another Mexican comic, Los insoportables Borbolla, before eventually parting company.


Then, in 1990, Jodorowsky returned to his very first comics project and completely re-worked Anibal 5 as a two-volume story. He teamed up with his long-term collaborator, Georges Bess (The White Lama, Son of the Gun) and ramped up the Panic movement's absurdist ideals in the story. Anibal 5 became a preening, pouting, prima donna, forced into ever more ludicrous scenarios by a bizarre, morally bankrupt organization, the European Defense Organization (changed from the original's Latin American Defense Agency). With increasingly ridiculous villains to conquer, and more expressive and creative freedom, Jodorowsky created a masterpiece that challenges, provokes, seduces and enrages contemporary readers, while simultaneously never taking its tongue of its cheek. It's truly a time to PANIC!

Anibal 5 arrives in stores September 30, 2015 with an MSRP of $24.95/£17.99

Tags: Across the Pond