March 7, 2012


It's been a busy time in the Spy Vibe lair. The teaching schedule is more demanding as the end of the school year approaches. In addition to my studio classes in Film, Photo, and Drawing, I have also been teaching fun classes in Beatles history and in low-budget/high-concept movies (which allows for some fun days with the likes of Dr No, Lancelot Link, and Diabolik!). I have also been spending more time with a lifelong passion for cartooning. Although this has left us with less news or features for Spy Vibe lately, it has allowed me to start penciling my first graphic novel! I'm making a transition from strips and single-panel work, so it's pretty fun to have a new challenge.

In the wake of
Hugo and The Artist, which have re-opened a door into the magic of the silent era, I'm enjoying a revisit with old favorites by Feuillade, Melies, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Fritz Lang. I just saw Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr recently on Netflix and really enjoyed it! Like Melies, he used the illusion of linear time that film offers to create some memorable visual gags. I also just saw the John Barrymore Sherlock Holmes film (its restoration was funded by Hef!). Although it dragged a bit in the middle, I have to say that I enjoyed the casting a lot (both Holmes and Moriarty were great!). And the film had enough mystery conventions, like trap doors, signals, and secret hiding places to keep me entertained. Hats off to Kino films for making these classics available.

If you are a fan of the wonderful mystery/adventure serials Fantomas, Judex, and Les Vampires, join me in celebrating the new English translation of this Judex novel from Black Coat Press. Rick Lai has written about The Shadow in the past, so I'm intrigued by the section about The Shadow and Judex listed in the contents. Black Coat has also published many Fantomas titles. I'm looking forward to checking out the whole series and talking with the publisher about some details. I will post my findings on Spy Vibe when I get a chance. In the meantime, here is more info from the publisher's website:

In 1917, silent film director Louis Feuillade and writer Arthur Bernède created the character of a mysterious avenger, wearing a slouch hat and a dark cloak -- Judex! His name means "Judge," and he has sworn to mercilessly punish criminals!

Judex appears and disappears like a living shadow. Trained by the vindictive Woman in Black, he is a master of disguise and an excellent fighter. His loyal followers include a female athlete, a reformed ex-convict and a pack of vicious bloodhounds. Beneath the ruins of a castle is his secret lair, where he interrogates his prisoners through a "television" screen. His nemesis is Favraux, a corrupt banker who has left a trail of ruin and misery in his wake.

In this epic saga, Judex not only challenges Favraux, but also the evil Diana Monti, Favraux's fiancée who is as ruthless and powerful as he is. But as our hero struggles against the villains, he falls in love with Favraux's daughter, the beautiful, innocent Jacqueline...

JUDEX (1917)

Part One: The Mysterious Shadow
Part Two: The Atonement
Part Three: The Amazing Dogs
Part Four: The Secret of the Tomb
Part Five: The Mill of Misery
Part Six: The Licorice Kid
Part Seven: The Woman in Black
Part Eight. The Caverns of the Chateau Rouge
Part Nine: When the Child Appeared
Part Ten: The Heart of Jacqueline
Part Eleven: The Water-Sprite
Part Twelve: Love's Forgiveness
The Continuity and Chronology of Judex
Judex and The Shadow
A List of Judex Pastiches

Arthur Bernède (1871-1937) was a renowned playwright, journalist, screenwriter and the author of numerous popular novels. His best-remembered creations are the mysterious avenger known as Judex (co-created with, and for, filmmaker Louis Feuillade who directed the first Fantômas serials), and the villainous Belphégor, the so-called "Phantom of the Louvre." In 1919, Bernède joined forces with actor René Navarre, who had played Fantômas in the Feuillade serials, and writer Gaston Leroux, the creator of Rouletabille, to launch the Société des Cinéromans, a production company that would produce films and novels simultaneously.

The absolutely brilliant 1963 version of Judex by Franju, available from Amazon for $8.99!


  1. Ooh, that edition of the book looks cool! I'm curious to read that Shadow essay. I believe that the 1940s Shadow comic books were actually published in France as Judex comics with no changes to the content other than the name!

  2. I finally watched my Criterion release of Judex last weekend. Wow! What a completely insane movie! I could tell from the title cards that I was going to love it, but I never expected the Bad Girl of the story to be so captivating! Cat Suits, Menswear, daggers, everything she touched turned to gold! I have to look her up! The hero, Judex himself, turned out to be a kind of weird, long con stalker by the end, and I hated the villainess to meet her destiny (so did that kid!), but wow, what a movie!


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