(Bill Cunningham’s quest to restore the Lost Charles Bronson Film, except that it doesn’t have Charles Bronson in it and it’s not a film.)
I love old movies. When channel surfing, I especially love it when I stumble across an actor I like in a movie I don’t know anything about. In our over-informationalized world, that’s when the magic happens. “What is this movie?” I might ask. “When did this actor make it?” “Is it treasure or trash?”
This happened to me just the other day when I spotted Leonard Nimoy in BAFFLED! At first I thought it was an old episode of MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, but soon I realized it was something weird and wonderful. Well…weird and maybe not so wonderful. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you NOT to seek it out. It goes into that: I”ll never get that 90 minutes back” category.
On the other hand, having just been so snarky, I do wonder if the further adventures of the protagonist, an occult detective, and his beautiful sidekick, could make an interesting comic…
Kickstarting a Killer
Bill Cunningham is a movie aficionado who recently found a treasure of a different sort. He is working on a project related to a new movie, DEATH KISS. He described it as a modern day Charles Bronson movie, but without Charles Bronson. It stars Robert ‘Bronzi’ Kovacs, a Bronson lookalike. And while researching old Bronson movies, he came across comics images he had never seen before.
These pages looked like they must be from a comic book version of a Charles Bronson thriller. But how could that be?
After more research, he found out that the pages were from KILLER , a short-lived Chilean spy series. And then things really got interesting.
Cunningham learned that for years, artist German Gabler had worked on Chile’s James Bond 007 strip for publisher Editorial Zig-Zag. When the Pinochet dictatorship rose to power, they put a stop to anything they determined to be anti-government. For whatever reason, James Bond 007 fell into that category.
German Gabler decided to continue to create spy adventures with a new character called KILLER . This strip, and the main character, were quite a bit rougher than the polished 007. The stories featured the adventures of a man codenamed “Jack Killer”. He’s a British secret agent and ladies man with the rough hewn look of Charles Bronson.
“Unlike 007, he definitely wasn’t polite,” said Cunningham.
Jack Killer acts to thwart conspiracies and attacks not only by the KGB but also by Tarantula – the secret, global criminal cartel. Every good spy has to have his own secret bad-guy organization to fight.
There were only nine issues of KILLER published in Chile and Argentina. The economy was so volatile under the Pinochet government that prices of everything changed from week to week. This destroyed their comic industry.
Cunningham also learned that there was one lost KILLER story that had yet to be published. It was in Gabler’s desk all these years. With the help of some new artists, Gabler completed the story for Acciòn Comics. The restored comic was welcomed by Chilean fans and the international media; with stories published in Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador and the Netherlands. “KILLER is in a unique position in the spy genre. While his missions are global, the stories have a distinct Chilean attitude and approach which gives them a unique perspective,” said Cunningham.
There’s a charm to the fact that these globetrotting adventures were created in Chile by a Chilean. “It is as if someone took the 007 template and said ‘How to make it Chilean?’, ” pondered Cunningham.
From the official press release:
Pulp 2.0 will be republishing the original KILLER in English for the first time as well as developing other new media such as books, comics, and motion pictures and television. To inaugurate the endeavor, Pulp 2.0 has launched an Indiegogo® crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of scanning and remastering all the artwork rescued from Gabler’s basement, and translating the books from Spanish to English.
Rewards including tee shirts, PDF copies of the comics, posters and original artwork are part of the campaign. Stretch goals will incorporate new original artwork, Thank You listings in the books, and a full color version of the series. Pulp 2.0 has also negotiated a deal with artist Christopher Shy of Studio Ronin to create new covers for KILLER comics and a definitive collection of all the stories.
The Indie Go Go Page is here.
These comics will appeal to anyone who likes Cold War thrillers, or who may have enjoyed recent series like Velvet by Brubaker and Epting. German Gabler’s art is solid, evoking Al Williamson, and peppered with plenty of action. There’s no shortage of beautiful women co-starring with Killer in these stories. They all want to either kiss him or kill him.
We know how that goes, right?
Here’s wishing great success to Bill Cunningham, and his entrepreneurial company, Pulp 2.0, with this fascinating publishing effort.
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One More Thing
I recently had great time interviewing writer Don Glut for a long Back Issue Magazine article on the Archie Sorcery comics. Glut was a fascinating guy and very kind with his time and behind-the-scenes-stories. So with that mind, I also want to plug that Bill Cunningham’s company, Pulp 2.0, is now taking preorders for Don Glut’s Tales of Frankenstein. For this project, Glut gathered several talented artists to illustrate stories in a Warren magazine format. Christopher Shy, mentioned above, is the mastermind behind the cover for this graphic anthology.
More details about this project and Pulp 2.0 here.