Sergio Leone's retooling of classic westerns for his "spaghetti westerns"... Stieg Larsson's striking take on the serial killer/mystery thriller in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo... And for that matter ABBA's fiendishly catchy appropriation of American pop music. Sometimes it takes Europeans to make gold of tuckered-out American tropes.
Add to those instances of inspired global cross-pollination the Spanish cartoonist Martí's eye-popping The Cabbie, which spins off Martin Scorsese's sordid urban-justice drama Taxi Driver with a graphic style that unapologetically appropriates and even refines the brutal slabs of black, squashed perspectives, and grotesque approach to human physiognomy (and its ability to withstand punishment) that define Chester Gould's Dick Tracy.
And as Art Spiegelman (who was the first to publish Martí's work in English, in RAW magazine) notes in his introduction, while "Gould's graphic black and white precision and his diagrammatic clarity live on in Martí's work," he points out that "more interestingly, perhaps, so does Gould's depravity." Indeed, if anything, The Cabbie is even more savage than the legendarily brutal Dick Tracy, with its pimps, whores, petty thieves, corrupt businessmen, all swirling around the ingenuously violent "Cabbie" whose self-administered "upstanding citizen" status entitles him -- in his view -- to even more shocking acts of violence -- especially on his quest for the stolen coffin of his father, which he's told includes his entire inheritance!
A bold graphic novel... It's definitely stunning: When was the last time you got in a cab tricked out with tear gas pipes and a back seat tricked out like an electric chair? On second thought, don't tell us...
Wearing its stylistic debt to Chester Gould's classic Dick Tracy strips on its sleeve, this Spanish-produced series (which was originally printed in the '80s) revels in a stark and sleazy noir aesthetic that drags the reader on a vicious trip through the scabrous underbelly of "the Big City."... An intriguing throwback to the days of heroes with worldviews defined in terms as rigidly black and white as the panels they battled their way through, this visual and thematic love letter to (and simultaneous critique of) Gould's tropes is highly recommended for grownups with a taste for refreshingly lurid pulp fiction.
This is a harsh and uncompromising tale of escalating crime and uncaring punishments: blackly cynical, existentially scary and populated with a cast of battered, desolate characters of increasingly degenerate desperation. Even the monsters are victims. But for all that The Cabbie is an incredibly compelling drama with strong allegorical overtones and brutally mesmerizing visuals. Any adult follower of the art form should be conversant with this superb work and with a second volume forthcoming hopefully we soon all will be.
Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
Initially published in the '80s, [The Cabbie] mimics the basic comic strip format -- even going as far as aping the way Chester Gould used thick black lines for basically everything with Dick Tracy -- but is supremely screwed up. The protagonist, a cab driver is obsessed with money, has a tricked out cab, happens upon bizarre crimes, and even gets tortured by a family living in the slums. It is a really uncomfortable experience from cover to cover, and I am stoked it exists.
Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
Born in 1955, Marti has been published in the anthologies RAW, Drawn and Quarterly, and Pictopia; an issue of his solo comic Calvario Hills, which appeared under the "Ignatz" imprint from Fantagraphics in 2007, revived the Cabbie for a new adventure.