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Jimbo's Inferno Hardcover – April 5, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Panter is a legend of independent comics; considered the father of punk comics, he has influenced many, including Matt Groening, and warped the look of children's television with his sets for Pee Wee's Playhouse. Jimbo's Inferno is the prequel to his critically acclaimed Jimbo in Purgatory, which came out in 2004. Inferno originally appeared as part of a short-lived line of art comics published by Groening, but here it's been reformatted to the terrifyingly deluxe oversized standards of Purgatory. Like that volume, this follows the outlines of Dante's Divine Comedy, but combines and conflates specific events, looking at them all with a satiric rock and roll flair. The erstwhile hero, Jimbo, guided by the boxlike Valise, travels into Focky Bocky, a subterranean mall that spirals downwards, containing a modern vision of hell. The art is a Boschian mishmash of grotesque and comic, all in Panter's signature proto-punk style. The dialogue borrows as much from Dante as from Lewis Carroll and Frank Zappa. Together, it is a dizzying re-envisioning of Dante. Perhaps because of its earlier format, it lacks the intricate polish that made Jimbo in Purgatory a groundbreaking comic, but as a rough sketch of twisted genius, it still amazes. (Apr.)
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Since emerging from the late-1970s L.A. punk scene, Panter has been an influential illustrator and designer. He won three Emmys for the wildly imaginative sets of Pee Wee's Playhouse, yet he's probably best known for his underground comics featuring punkster Jimbo. In Jimbo in Purgatory (2004), he sent his creation through a gigantic infotainment testing center resembling Dante's Mount Purgatory. This volume continues the itinerary as Jimbo's Virgil, the robot Valise (who resembles a boxy riding mower), accompanies him through a vast shopping mall. Jimbo's journey ostensibly corresponds canto-to-canto with the Commedia, with characters from Inferno morphed into minotaurs, drug-taking punks, tractorlike robots, and beings that defy description. But this ain't Classics Illustrated. "Don't try to pass a pop quiz on Dante's Hell based on a reading of this comic," Panter warns. "It won't work." His scratchy yet muscular drawing style, born out of the '70s D.I.Y. ethos, remains raw and primitive even when Panter channels Dore. An audacious amalgamation of punk attitude and classic literature that's not for everyone but belongs in serious graphic-novel collections. Gordon Flagg
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