Writer / Artist
Vuzz review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Comics - 978-1785866654
  • Release date: 1974
  • English language release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781785866654
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

In his introduction to this collection of one of his earliest works, Philippe Druillet is keen to set the record straight by pointing out that Moebius’ Arzach wasn’t the first wordless French SF strip, and that Vuzz had already seen a few serialised episodes beforehand. That’s as may be, but Arzach and Vuzz are two very different strips reflecting the interests of their creators. Arzach is serene scenes of a guy flying on the back of giant bird through an alien landscape while Vuzz violently hacks and slashes his way through hordes of beings, pumping whatever he can. It’s only the silence and the SF/fantasy setting connecting them.

Although it follows the earliest Lone Sloane material, this is still relatively young Druillet, and there’s a precision about the art that would later disappear in wild sweeps and slashes of colour. Here Druillet’s interested in light and tone. There’s a tendency to start each strip in minimal fashion, but by the ending the panels are packed with creatures and movement. Vuzz doesn’t remain silent either as he travels about his fantasy world encountering pirates, zombies, dragons and monstrous fungal penises. The strips are short, often surreal, and Druillet builds upon a world gradually pieced together. In an early strip a gay wizard meets the same fate as most other living creatures Vuzz runs into, but that doesn’t mean his role is at an end.

Halfway through, the short story format is seemingly dropped to enbable Vuzz’s quest for four mystical gems, although in practice it’s mostly episodic, a bunch of shorts just strung together. Toward the end, though, there’s a greater continuity, more humour and a sense of the surreal with a bizarre carriage and a brief encounter with the 20th century.

Vuzz is silly fun, interesting from a historical perspective and seeing the emerging artist, who’s already excellent, by the way. However, there’s no consistency to Druillet’s back catalogue as there is to Moebius’ contemporary work, and Vuzz is a bunch of experiments later discarded. The violence and nihilism would be carried forward into more sustained and imaginative projects.