Guy Davis’ The Marquis
A bizarre comic published by Oni Press in 2000, the Marquis has been bewildering and fascinating fans ever since. A combination of Peter Schaffer’s film Amadeus and Hellboy, the Marquis is set in a fictional 18th Century French metropolis ruled by a Puritanical regime called the Ministry. The demon hunter Vol de Galle is afflicted by painful visions of hellish monsters wearing the flesh of the townsfolk. As he is the only person capable of seeing these imposters, de Galle is driven into action, cutting down the devils with his blade and custom-made gatlin hand guns, obscured by a twisted and grim face mask and flowing robes.
Thinking that he is the only holy man in a city ruled by sin, the Marquis feels justified in the violent maner in which he despatches his prey. A moral man overcome with horror at his own actions, de Galle firmly believes that he is doing the Lord’s work… which makes the startling revealtion mid-series all the more tragic.
The Marquis’ premise is upheld by the beautiful yet deeply disturbing black and white artwork drawn with such skill that each detail makes an emotive impact on the reader. All but de Galle’s visions are portrayed in stark black and white, the visions themselves displayed in shocking red. It is rare to find a comic the creates a moody atmosphere as rich as the Marquis does with its perpetual mid-winter setting and Gothic architecture.
The artist best known for his work on Vertigo’s Sandman Mystery Theatre and more recently the Hellboy spin-off series B.P.R.D., I have been a fan of Guy Davis from as far back as the Arrow Comics fantasy series ‘The Realm’ (still waiting on that T-shirt I mailed away for). It has been fascinating to watch Davis grow as an artist through comics such as Baker Street.
After making the move to Dark Horse to re-release what is now called the first volume of the Marquis, Davis has elaborated that he plans to compose the entire story in five volumes. The forthcoming volumes will be released as graphic novels rather than single issues starting with The Marquis and the Mid-Wife expected to hit the stands next year. I’m hoping that the release of Inferno will spark interest in this great horror/action series.