The Collector by Sergio Toppi is a graphic novel depicting the fictional adventures of a Caucasian aristocrat collecting various items of personal, cultural, and spiritual significance around the world. Drawn in Toppi’s unique black-and-white “India-ink” style, the book depicts adventures in the American West, Northern Africa, the Pacific Islands, Turkey, Ireland, and Tibet.
“I always get what I want.”
The illustration in the book is gorgeous – evocative, dramatic, intriguing, and at times beautiful; the title is worth owning for the artistic style alone. However, the content of the story will probably offend some readers: the titular character is a colonial chauvinist, and the assertions both the character and the book make are questionable. For example, some may be frustrated by the novel’s assertion that many of the most significant successful indigenous military victories over colonial powers were actually the result of The Collector’s intervention. Others may question the morality of the title character’s taking priceless artifacts, people, and experiences from groups around the world based solely on the justification that “I always get what I want.” In this regard, the book feels very much like a spaghetti Western: fun overall, but including many distasteful elements.
The Collector will be delightful for students of art or for anyone interested in an adventure story divorced from most conceptions of morality; others should probably steer clear.