Review: Milo Manara’s The Golden Ass

Much like Manara’s Gullivera, The Golden Ass loosely based on the literary piece it takes its name. In this case, it’s The Golden Ass of Apuleius. That said, there are two ways to read and enjoy this book. The first is knowing the source material well enough to see what Manara is doing referencing and ultimately changing. The other is the way I read it. As erotica. Having never read The Golden Ass of Apuleius, all of its inferences were lost on me. Having read The Golden Ass and thus Manara’s take on the story, I would never read the original. After all, how can it possibly stack up to Manara’s version?

The Golden AssThe story if you can’t tell, takes place at the peak of the Roman era which makes it perfect for Manara. The main character dabbles in some witchcraft and instead of being transformed into a bird he’s converted to a… Ass. Like a donkey ass, not like a person that just says some mean shit with no remorse. He must eat roses to transform back and of course, that means he’s not going to be able to do that for some time. He ends up going on all kinds of adventures due to his ass like state, some sexy, some dangerous, plenty of them weird.

The Golden Ass is not the strongest of Manara stories. It’s still incredibly enjoyable, but if you’ve read a great deal of his work (which I have) then you might forget to put this one on your list, it’s that forgettable. Personally, I feel it’s due to the story. It is an old tale and told in an ancient style. Even Manara’s attempts at somewhat modernizing it, don’t do enough. In the end, it’s just a dull story without much of a message. Unless the message is, “don’t fuck with magic.” In that case, the message rings true.

The art, of course, is the main reason you should pick it up. Aside from Manara’s marvelous linework, beautiful woman, and gorgeous set pieces; there is a great deal of watercolor done. It’s masterful, to say the least. The bulk of the water coloring is a purplish grey color, but all of the people have flesh tones to make them stand out on the page. There are even more subtleties in the coloring with lipstick and flowers. It’s a story that you don’t technically have to read. Not that it’s not worth reading once, but Manara’s visual storytelling is so compelling that you can understand everything that’s happening without ever reading a word. I almost wish there was an only art version because it might be better.

If this is your first Manara piece of work, that’s okay. Like I’ve said, it’s worth reading even if it’s not his best. It’s still incredibly significant, and I would take it over a lot of other comics that exist on the shelves of bookstores and comic shops. If it’s your first encounter with Manara, then read it and then dive into the rest of his work. You won’t regret it.

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Milo Manara’s The Golden Ass Creator: Milo Manara Publisher: Humanoids Inc. Price: $19.95 Format: Oversized Deluxe Hardcover; Print/Digital


Review: Milo Manara’s Gullivera

Milo Manara’s Gullivera is for all intents and purposes an erotic Gulliver’s Travels. That is the fastest and easiest way to tell you what the story is about, while explaining nothing of why this work is good. To begin with, it’s Milo Manara which in this day and age, for some damn reason, means something different from what it should. Thanks to his Marvel Comics variants, the man whose work used to speak for itself is now forever remembered for a variant cover and a select group that feels that censoring artwork is okay. Before all that, he was a master of erotic comics and just a master illustrator. He still is, it’s just that he has all that excess baggage attached now.

Now I’ll address a few complaints that I can see others having with Manara’s style. A lot of his women look the same. For the most part they have the same face, one of a few select hair style,s and Milo Manara's Gulliveradefinitely the same appendages in other departments as well. I can see that as someone who looks at a lot of art and would normally complain about that in any other comic. Why Manara gets away with it is that he’s such a strong visual storyteller that he’s able to suck you into the world easily. Sure he has the help of erotic content to help distract you, but even putting that aside, there’s so much detail going on in the book that if you’re really that bothered by the similarities in his work, then you’re perhaps reading it for the wrong reasons. You're looking for something to hate, rather than enjoy.

His art style is wonderful. Not just because of the erotic element either. Yes, that is great and I will fully admit that he produces some of the most amazing looking women I’ve ever seen illustrated, but, again, it’s the rest of the world that he creates. Because the erotic part is hollow and cheap without all the details that make the world look real. Without Manara’s skills as a storyteller and his detail as an artist, something like “erotic Gulliver’s Travels” would just be cheap porn. And this is anything but.

The story follows about the same pacing as Gulliver’s Travels, at least from what my memory serves. A great deal of the story is spent with her as a giant, then small and so on and so forth. There are little twists to each element of the story, but overall it’s a quick read. Even with the erotic element to it, there’s a sense of lighthearted joy to the story. Unlike in Gulliver’s Travels you’re never fearful for Gullivera’s life or concerned if she’ll get home. Instead, it’s just a quick romp done only the way Manara can.

If you’ve already read this story, then you’re not going to find anything new here. You will find something wonderful to add to your collection and if you’re a first time reader then you’ll get a taste of what makes Manara’s work memorable and frankly, great.

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Milo Manara’s Gullivera Creator: Milo Manara Publisher: Humanoids Price: $24.95 Format: Oversized Deluxe Edition; Print/Digital