Anarchists go on a crime spree in 'The Illegalists'

The era before World War II was known as the Belle Epoque, the Beautiful Age, in France, but that was for the rich. For the poor and the working class, it was a time of harsh conditions and few opportunities, and numerous anarchist groups sprung up amid the disenfranchised. Among them was the Bonnot Gang, ideological criminals whose anarchist principles led them to go on a crime spree in France in 1911-12, robbing banks and stealing from the rich (they were the first bank robbers ever to use a getaway car). The Illegalists is their story.

Or rather, it will be their story if the graphic novel is completed. Right now, writer Stefan Vogel is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to finish it. The artist is Attila Futaki, whose credits include the Image Comics series Severed (written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft) and the second Percy Jackson graphic novel.

Vogel's story follows Jules Bonnot, the best known member of the Bonnot gang, a skilled auto mechanic who, at least in this telling, is led into crime by a series of misfortunes, not the least of which was to be a member of the working class in France in 1911.

What follows is a preview of the book, including a number of pages that are exclusive to Robot 6, as well as Vogel's commentary on both the story and the art.

"The opening page is based on photos of actual events from the spectacular shootout where 500 armed police officers, soldiers, fire-fighters, military engineers and private gun-owners surrounded Jules Bonnot. Attila’s life-like artwork is jaw-droppingly beautiful and his realistic style perfectly matches the real-life subject matter of The Illegalists."

"Jules Bonnot, our lead character, is an underpaid and overworked mechanic, working on motorcars for the rich and famous. He lives in a dirt poor apartment with his wife and child on the verge of being destitute. Greg Guilhaumond’s gritty undertones of color really capture the underlying moods, his lighting and shadows are brilliant and his colors spill emotion into the panels like somber blues or violent reds."

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