Born in Bruxelles in 1955, Yves Swolfs belongs to the realm of classics of french-belgian comic book artist who know their trade.His lonesome comic book heroes all seem to originate in a time when heroism was a simple business – no matter which genre: the noble knight, brave soldiers, dark vampires or – like in his western Durango – the solitary gunman who comes to the rescue of the weak.
If you – according to the subtitle „Les Forces de la Colère“ – expect violence, anger and death“, rest assured: that's what you will get here. German Editors at Kult Editionen place this series in the tadition of a classic spaghetti western, probably thinking of Sergio Leone's epic picture „Once Upon A Time In The West“. Charles Bronson as „Harmonica“ may well have served as a prototype for Durango – a solitary horseman of dubious character. At least there are quite a few parallels.
My first thought however, when reading this story, was quite a different one: Sam Peckinpah.The entrance scene in particular reminds me of the out-of-control-roberry-scene that introduces the plot and cast of „The Wild Bunch“ – one of the most famous western classics of all times.
„Blood won't trickle – blood will splatter“ – that's the first and foremost thing to get used to, when meeting Sam Peckinpah. The consistent implementation of this philosophy has earned him the dubious honour of being called „Bloody Sam“or the „Blood Poet“, who has saved American Western from mediocrity and insignificance.
Yves Swolfs obviously shares these ideas following in the footsteps of a great role model. His western stories revolving around Durango are adventures by the book: Shoot now, ask later.That's the rule. Here also blood won't trickle. It splatters quite effectively, while the traditional assignment of roles is invigoratingly simple: There's good guys and there's bad guys. The bad guys terrorize, murder and violate the good guys. Inbetween there's Durango – who lives by his own rules. He's neither really good, nor really bad, his methods are arguable, but like the noble knight or traditional samurai soldier he treasures his personal code of honour and maintains high standards to his values.
Unlike Peckinpah, Durango isn't social criticism, but there are still a number of homages: At a close look there's the art of storytelling at slow and fast pace and by means of quick jump cuts (flash cuttings) as well as hints at Peckinpah's famous technique of „slow motion cinematography“.
Yves Swolfs quite effectively uses dialogue for his storytelling and to characterize his protagonists.His imagery is solid and sometimes dominated by powerful inks. In his art he clearly follows in the footsteps of the great Jean Giraud (Moebius) and his Blueberry.
As we are dealing with a western, sound of course is important and therefor used appropriately. „BLAMs and PAWs“ dominate the panels whenever bullets are flying around. And there's quite a lot of that. In the end the lonesome hero rides on after his job is done. Anything else would be second-rate-cinema.