Saturday, May 4, 2013

SUPERZELDA, stunning graphic novel, captures the passionate lives of Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald

SUPERZELDA by Tiziana Lo Porto and Daniele Marotta published by One Peace Books

It took two Italians, journalist Tiziana Lo Porto and cartoonist Daniele Marotta, to animate that quintessential American creation, Zelda Fitzgerald. Her ecstatic pursuit of life; joy, love, pleasure, is the romance of the Flapper, immortalized by Scott Fitzgerald. Yet this telling adds the dimension of literature from Zelda's journals, letters exchanged, stories both published, his novels, as well as her vast readings from philosophy to poets.

Much analysis of Zelda begins and ends with tragic beauty, brilliant and unstable. There are also questions about whether Scott exploited her, not just her archetype but her actual writings, which appear in his novels. Opposed are Fitzgerald fans,who believe she destroyed a great writer, driven to alcohol from her madness.

A philosopher quoted that the search for truth often leads to its "bastard substitute" anesthesia. This may be closer than mere psychology to what drove the Fitzgeralds and later contributed to drink and mental instability. Jack Kerouac would have gone on Zelda's road. But this smart funny graphic novel is about the trip and includes comments from those they met; Hemingway, who disliked Zelda, Gertrude Stein, the Murphys,John Dos Passos. Even Louise Brooks' competitive musings.

But SUPERZELDA is smart enough to just tell the story. Zelda grew up willful and outdoorsy in the south, a girl who felt equal to boys and wanted to be a boss. She develops a voracious thirst for books, though her grades slip, when she discovers boys and vice versa. Young Zelda's beauty, zest for adventure and intelligence, attract many admirers. Just being herself, she's in demand. Her Flapper image is a coincidence of personality and history, a time of huge social change for women. Then she meets Scott, who determines to marry her. His desire to have the money to do so spurs him to finish his first novel, a runaway success and they're launched--off!

SUPERZELDA takes you to all the countries of Europe, Algeria, wild parties, Scott's flirtation with Isadora Duncan and Zelda's mad retaliation, the birth of daughter Scottie, sojourns of domesticity. But the thread is how the pair mirror each other's thoughts and feelings, as extreme alter egos. Zelda plays the muse, but the reverse is also true, though when it came to writing for the world, Scott was the boss. Telling the plot is inane, the fun of retelling is in the inspired cartoons. Translated in English in the novel, online its Italian. So just buy the book.