Monday, July 30, 2012

Billie Holiday! A graphic novel by Sampayo & Munoz

I'm really excited. I just got the graphic novel "Billie Holiday" by Argentinian writer Carlos Sampayo and artist Jose Munoz in the mail.
I haven't heard anything about them in recent years but in the 80’s these guys were pretty big.
They got a few pieces published in Art “Maus” Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s RAW Magazine.
Mister Wilcox, Mister Conrad, from RAW Magazine #3
I always loved the look of Munoz’s art. It’s wild and messy while at the same time very strong and firm. He can draw faces that look like they belong in a 1930’s Felix the Cat cartoon and yet fit into this gritty realistic world.
After being in RAW some of Munoz/Sampayo’s other work like Joe’s Bar, Sinner and this Billie Holiday were put out.

I also recently discovered that Munoz did an 8 pager for 1996’s Batman Black and White #3 called Devil's Trumpet written by Archie Goodwin. Archie played to Munoz' strengths by making the story about a jazz musician, something he draws wonderfully, while having the Batman appear in all of 1 panels. It was a pretty fun story though I wouldn't have minded seeing Munoz' Batman more.

Billie Holiday was really fun! It was a 49 page graphic novel and a pretty quick read. It contained images from Billie's life, mostly about being a black woman in a racist country and her drug addiction. She often finds herself abused by sadistic whites. Meanwhile modern day Sinner (Sampayo/Munoz' main protagonist detective) reminisces about the few times that he actually met this legendary jazz singer. It's an good narrative, but the art really makes it awesome! Check out these pages of her time making movies in Hollywood.
This scene is in reference to a movie she and Louie Armstrong did called "New Orleans". It was truly breathtaking to see her perform though I found their "negro" portrayals, her a maid and him a bowing black musician, a little embarrassing to watch. And the hero turned out to be a WHITE jazz musician!!! This was NOT a great chapter in American history.

I’ve seen many really great comic artists since my introduction to Munoz but I still find his work some of the most exciting comics ever made.


  1. I was the editor and one of the translators on that book. Really proud of it, wish we had published more Muñoz and Sampayo.

  2. Wow Robert, what an honor to have you here!
    I whole heartedly agree about getting more Munoz/Sampayo! One of the main reasons I did this installment was because I found a lack of their work on the net.

  3. not so anonymous, I'm Munoz, in an December's Paris cold night. Well, Robert Boyd and Piperson: I would like that so. I (Ayayay!) thanks you both greatly and profoundly. We always worked in the soul to soul system, drawin' n' whistlin' our jazztango narrative music on/at the paper, and now, trough the Electric International Modern Universe, I send you my best Muchas gracias, muchachos.

    1. Wow, what a complete honor! It's funny because I was just scanning your Batman Black and White pages to put up for an up-in-coming blog installment. How serendipitous. The universe works in mysterious ways!
      I have to say that you are one of my favorite artists. Your work is a huge inspiration to me. I think the closest analogy to it would be jazz. You are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be done though you always come back to the fundamentals. Behind your abstractions I can see a very solid world with it's background, perspective and shading. It's very realistic AND surrealistic. The lack of your work published in English has been very frustrating for me. I was actually just on Amazon looking into getting it in it's original language.
      I would love to hear from you about your life and your work. Would you be up for an interview or something?

    2. I'm here again. hope you're well, thanks four your concepts. Of course, you could write me at my site, josemunozdessins, and we could start to talk. I'm actually galoping in internet trying to contain my mind that menaces to slump in a dark shadow of sorrow, terror and anger about the Charlie killings.

  4. Agreed, the lack of Munoz in English is egregious. If Keith Giffen had any decency, he'd have used his clout, called in a few favours, and helped rectify this.