The Bawdy Tales of Lazlo Cale #1

Writer: Andrew Maxwell
Artist: Goran Gligovic
Lettering: Bernardo Brice

Review by Jim Allegro

Here’s a word you don’t typically use to describe a comic book:  cheeky.  But The Bawdy Tales of Lazlo Cale #1 is just that. It’s the sassy story of a stylish male prostitute turned art dealer who dodges sexually-transmitted diseases, pan-dimensional drug dealers, and oversexed trans-human clients in his quest to go legitimate.  Available for pre-order on Kickstarter this July 10th, the self-published book from Andrew Maxwell (Rum Row) and Goran Gligovic is a fun and mischievous satire about futurism, sexuality, and beauty.

Maxwell creates an original world for this sometimes ribald, always alluring, leading man.  Multiple timelines converge in Paris after an inter-dimensional time bomb explodes, leading to a cultural renaissance led by a breed of trans-humans.  But it also unleashes the forces of Edgar Allen Poe, who fights with Lazlo over a valuable painting.  To steal the art from his ex-lover, Poe marshals threats, an unruly band of thugs, and an illegal drug that induces a wave of nostalgia.

The story also contains a mix of novel and familiar elements.  Creative surprises abound in this comic, such as when the band of thugs turn out to be the Pinkerton Detectives, the living organism/prophylactic used by Lazlo after sexual encounters with his clients, and menacing clone-twins of the frontiersman Jim Bowie.   The very idea of (a very short) Edgar Allen Poe-as-gangster who stalks a futuristic world is original enough to make me laugh out loud.  But, there are also moments when the narrative feels a bit too familiar, such as the sidekick who chauffeurs Lazlo around, or the predictable shoot-em-up sequence that resolves the conflict between Poe and Lazlo. And, Lazlo’s lippy pout, his Euro-trash haircut, and preening egotism, while funny, is inspired at least in part by Zoolander, Ben Stiller’s satirical take on male modeling.

Gligovic’s art furthers the naughty and energetic feel of this comic.  Lazlo’s sharp features, especially his jawline, suggests that the hero might be a bit too pretty for the world in which he lives, especially compared to his squat nemesis, Poe.  There are sleek and curving elements in the artwork that evoke the feel of early-twentieth-century modernism, which thereby amplifies the theme of nostalgia that runs through the book.  The coloring is bright and lurid, even flamboyant, and the backgrounds angular and futuristic, suggesting an ambiance that looks forward to the future and back at the past at the same time.

Verdict:  Buy it.

The Bawdy Tales of Lazlo Cale #1 is a pleasant surprise that makes me want to check out Maxwell’s other work on Rum Row.  It is playful, snappy, and yes, a bit risque.

Jim Allegro

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