“Mister Mammoth”: grams of finesse and a world of brutes

Beneath his monstrous exterior, Mr Mammoth is the best detective in town. Living in the early 1970s in a modest apartment and an unsanitary office, he only accepts the most complex cases: like the one that William Corona has just offered him, a very wealthy client victim of an enigmatic blackmailer… And if this investigation, which had become obsessive, brought up secrets buried since childhood? For this detective diptych, Matt Kindt and Jean-Denis Pendanx offer us an unprecedented transatlantic creation: a story chiselled by an expert in the genre, all in suffocating atmospheres, pretense and mystery!

Cover and plates 1-2 of T1 (Futuropolis, 2022).

Mix of genres… (Futuropolis, 2022).

Published in early March 2022 by Futuropolis, the first volume therefore unveiled an unusual hero: Mister Mammoth, a mirrored wardrobe worthy of the Hulk for his physique… and of Sherlock Holmes for his science of deduction. Its investigative methods having proven themselves, Mammoth can afford to choose the cases that interest it; or rather, he only accepts “the cases he thinks he can’t solve”, insoluble cases grasped as so many personal challenges. The fictitious setting is that of a megalopolis worthy of New York and Los Angeles combined. However, in the America of the 1970s, the crime rate exploded, Wall Street was also going to be shaken by the first oil shock of 1973. The same year, beyond the symbolic construction of the World Trade Center, New York between indeed in an infernal spiral: the city goes into debt, weighed down by economic growth at half mast. Companies are leaving the metropolis and social programs are no longer sufficient to stem the effects of unemployment and poverty: in full decline, the “city that never sleeps” sinks into violence and illicit trafficking. Neighborhoods like Harlem, the Bronx or the north of Manhattan find themselves left to their own devices (schools closed, streets not maintained, without public lighting, garbage and carcasses of abandoned cars). Crime exploded: 600 murders recorded in 1964, against 2,040 in 1973 (86,000 thefts)!

Stages of production of plate 20 of T1.

Research and illustrations for the main character.

Novels (from “Don’t Marry a Cop” (Ed McBain, 1976) to “City on Fire” by Garth Risk Hallberg in 2016 via “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe in 1987), comics and films reflect the fear, violence and disgust of the middle classes, the authorities being powerless to resolve the situation: “French Connection” (William Friedkin, 1971), “Inspector Harry” (Don Siegel, 1971), “Serpico” (Sydney Lumet, 1973), “Mean Streets” (Martin Scorsese, 1973), “A vigilante in the city” (Michael Winner, 1974) and “Taxi Driver” (Martin Scorsese, 1976) thus embody all on the big screen the disarray of a disoriented America. The character of “Mister Mammoth”, for his part, with his trench coathis fedora hat, his whiskey and his smoky atmospheres, is rather reminiscent of the detectives of yesteryear: noir novel and style hard-boiled oblige. Non-violent, but massive, loving to keep his secret garden (he seems to be building a real stone fortress in the heart of the forest with his bare hands…), Mammoth is an enigma in itself, whose soul and psychology have been meticulously concocted by the authors. Situated somewhere between “Batman” and “The Big Sleep” (cult works, both published in 1939), a novel in which Raymond Chandler introduced the archetypal privateer Philipp Marlowe (who lives in Los Angeles), the world of “Mister Mammoth » was first inspired to Jean-Denis Pendanx by… the Petit Montmartre of La Réole, in Gironde! Having to visually invent a generic city, reminiscent of New York as much as Los Angeles, Pendanx begins by transforming the sets he knows well, transforming them with US sauce for a few boards of the first opus. . The opportunity also to give some keys to readers: Mister Mammoth is potentially as much a detective as an imposing superhero, while his investigation and his inner quest will cross several eras…

Illustrations.

Conceptual research for the covers.

Regarding the genesis of this project, Pendanx explains: “Matt Kindt, passing through Paris four or five years ago, came across direct color plates from the album “Le Maître des crocodiles” (Futuropolis, 2016). He had then told Alain David (his editor at Futuropolis, who translates and publishes it) that a collaboration would interest him… Alain echoed this to me: I knew Matt’s work, being very flattered by the idea to work with him one day, in a register very different from my other albums. However, I had to wait a while, first having to finish the committed albums to be able to start this collaboration. Alain David wrote to Matt to tell him about this idea of ​​collaboration; four or five synopses were sent for me to make my choice, luck! I fell in love with “Mr Mammoth”; Matt set to writing and cutting it within weeks. I in turn sent him some research around Mister Mammoth’s physique based on research he had done before. He left me a lot of freedom with regard to the city, the framing, etc. He was also very open to small proposals from me, to make beautiful things out of them! And then, I loved his script with drawers, at several levels of reading…His way of losing the reader, of blurring the tracks, of making it so that we no longer know if we are in the dream, the reality , Or both at the same time. It was a collaboration carried out in total trust. Anyway, I’m ready to start again… Besides, I’m going to do an album with him again in a year! As for “Mister Mammoth”, it will be published in the USA by Dark Horse in March 2023. For the anecdote, we only worked by email, in English, despite my lack of vocabulary. I’ve never met Matt physically, for real; but I do not despair of finally being able to do it, if he is passing through France this year…”

Drawing finalized for the cover of T2.

Cover for the US version, to be released in 2023.

Very clever will be those who will understand the clues placed on the covers of this sticky diptych, under an old-fashioned title logo: first a massive silhouette, a kind of ogre with a penetrating but damaged gaze, an old TV screen on, an empty armchair and a birdcage; then the face of a terrified child and a camera filming a disturbing laboratory. Our hero, shadow projected on the facades of the city, would he be the product of a strange experiment, a dream escaped from his body? Is Mammoth still in a real world or in an alternative universe, recomposed by his singular faculty of observation? Is this Mister, ultimately, Doctor Jekyll or Hyde, his physique once again referring us to dual or ambiguous figures: Frankenstein’s creature, Hulk, Mignola’s Hellboy, the Thing according to Jack Kirby… In fact, inducing a identity mise en abyme, the narrative infiltrates beyond the canvas of genre, behind the meta line of the discourse on artistic re-construction and the place of the hero.

From Matt Kindt, readers could rather know until now his various works around the “Avengers”, “Justice League” or “X-Men” licenses, not to mention the “Mind MGMT”, “Divinity”, “GrassKings” series. or “Dpth. H”, published by Futuropolis in 2018-2019. Designer of “Jeronimus” (2008-2010), “Abdallahi” (2006), “Svoboda! (2011-2012) or, more recently, the remarkable “A Fake Story” screenplay by Laurent Galandon (Futuropolis 2020; prize for best one-shot at the Cognac thriller festival), Jean-Denis Pendanx will have found with Kindt the best way to reinvest his love of distant destinations, thriller-spy atmospheres from black series in the 1940s-1970s. As a bonus, remember that the first edition of “Mister Mammoth” T1 is enriched with an eight-page graphic notebook. We’ll let you fully discover the conclusion of T2… But there’s no doubt about it: scriptwise or graphically, between warm and cold tones, this Mammoth is heavy!

First page of T2 (Futuropolis, 2022).

Philippe TOMBLAINE

“Mister Mammoth” T1 by Jean-Denis Pendanx and Matt Kindt

Futuropolis Editions (€13.90) – EAN: 978-2-7548-3122-2

Publication March 2, 2022

“Mister Mammoth” T2 by Jean-Denis Pendanx and Matt Kindt

Futuropolis Editions (€13.90) – EAN: 978-2-7548-3289-2

Publication June 22, 2022

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