"We open with a bang, as a building is blown up in a scene reminiscent of
'Touch of Evil'—which happens to have one of the greatest
opening scenes in cinema history. Plus, it’s a gender-bending disco noir.
You can’t tell me you don’t want to read that."
Steven Alloway @ Fanboy Comics
"I love the way Bergen creates
"Trista is a breath of fresh air."
TRISTA & HOLT #1
Trista & Holt is the latest series from Andrez Bergen, creator of such comics as Bullet Gal and Tales to Admonish.
It has the same photo-manipulation art style as Bullet Gal, wherein existing photographs are assembled and edited to tell a new story—and provide a gritty, noirish feel, as well. This series, however, takes place in the '70s, which provides an added visual element in terms of style and fashion. Yep, in Trista & Holt, noir meets disco.
The story is based on the tale of Tristan and Iseult, from 12th century French literature. Only in this version, the genders are reversed. Tristan is now Trista, a hard-boiled and high-ranking member of her Aunt Marcella’s underworld empire. Meanwhile, Iseult becomes Holt, who’s a bit of a drunken mess, at least so far.
We open with a bang, as a building is blown up in a scene reminiscent of Touch of Evil—which happens to have one of the greatest opening scenes in cinema history. The explosion also kills two members of Marcella Cornwall’s organization, and Trista is called in in the aftermath, to get to the bottom of things. Much of this first issue is Trista’s hard-boiled narration, as her aunt rants in increasingly ridiculous ways about how outrageous the entire situation is. It’s gritty noir, to be sure, but there’s also a definite tongue-in-cheek vibe.
If you’re not familiar with the original story of Tristan and Iseult, have no fear. The story is fairly straightforward, and you don’t need a lot of extra background to be able to appreciate it. This first issue has plenty of action and intrigue that anyone can enjoy. Plus, it’s a gender-bending disco noir. You can’t tell me you don’t want to read that.
--Steven W. Alloway
“I smile. All coy-like. Can’t trust a single one of them.”
Just smile, smile, keep smiling, shake hands and act pleasant. It’s what they want isn’t it?
Writer Andrez Bergen (Bullet Gal) once again brings his readers into a highly noir based story, but this time dealing with two leads – Trista and Holt. The story sticks you right in the muck of things from the beginning, a scenario Bergen fleshed out at the end with his “Mythological Mailbag”. We spend most of this issue with Trista, and come the story’s end meet Holt.
The artwork in this series will seem familiar to those reading Bullet Gal, as Bergen takes pictures, runs them through various filters, and pieces together each page along with his text. This issue is filled with Bergen’s prose, more so than other comics you might be reading, which serve to tell an insightful story alongside the black and white images laid throughout.
A great example of Bergen playing with the words and images comes from a page with a long stretched column, consisting only of words, beside images of an eye on the left and a character’s incoherent rambling on the right – including the speaker. A great contrast from this page is the one that follows, which consists of a large image of Trista taking up the entirety of the page – which serves as a stopping point for her side of the story. Did somebody say Disco?
An author admittingly experiencing the story just as we are, one issue at a time, Bergen shows once again he has a firm grasp on the concepts of noir literature – perhaps due in part to his readings of Chandler and Hammett (two of the genre’s best), and his consistent great work on Bullet Gal.
Trista and Holt is a re-imagining of the classic story “Tristen and Iseult” and is set in the disco-era of the 70’s. A slow-burning, hard-boiled noir, Trista and Holt is the story of two lovers who belong to different crime families. When an explosion takes place, killing off two people on Trista’s side of things, she immediately suspects her lovers father, “Anguish” Holt Ireland. Wanting revenge, Trista’s aunt, “Queenie” Marcella Cornwall, is dead set on ripping out the vital organs of the person responsible for the attack on her real estate and men. And so begins the new and exciting story from Andrez Bergen (Bullet Gal) that promises to entertain.
I love the way Bergen creates his comics. Using stock photos, ads in magazines, pictures from his own collection, and those of well-known celebrities, he works tirelessly to take the image and then mold it to his story. Throughout this first issue, you will recognize Hillary Clinton, Faye Dunaway, Paul Newman and Angela Lansbury (to name a few). And while something like that would normally be distracting, Bergen has a way of making it work and forcing it to bring his story to life.
I can’t wait to see where this story goes, as Bergen has an eye for the fantastical and is always trying to up the last thing he put out.
Andrez Bergen is best known for his innovative and interesting stories like Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, and Bullet Gal. His latest work, Trista & Holt, follows his noir style.
A retelling of the classic Tristan and Iseult, Trista & Holt turns things on its head and places our heroes in a '70s pulp world. Queenie rules with an iron fist, and when two of her best men are killed, it is up to her niece Trista to find out what happened.
While not a lot of action happens in this first issue, it introduces the key players: Trista and Holt. Trista is a breath of fresh air; she plays the game well, and she knows it. She glides through her world, fully aware of the enemies she is potentially making and her rank with her aunt Queenie. And Holt…well, we’ll learn more about him in the coming issues.
The artwork of the comic really stands out at first glance. The stylized photos juxtaposed to the speech bubbles add to the pulpy feel. The much more subtle inner monologues give off a calmer feel, almost as if Trista is recharging before diving back into her violent and dangerous world. The photos are a cool effect, but it can be difficult to tell the characters apart after manipulation.
They do, however, do a fantastic job of setting the scene, especially when Holt is introduced at the disco. The artwork is worth taking your time to read. The style is immersive and key to establishing the world of Trista & Holt.
TRISTA & HOLT #2
“I knew what Brangien was going to say as soon as we hopped in the limo. Her favorite line from a dumb soap commercial on the box.”
She looks familiar… he does too! Writer and illustrator Andrez Bergen offers up another noir tale in his second issue of Trista and Holt. As a bonus, for anyone wanting to go back and see how many you noticed, he includes which celebrities and fun references he’s placed throughout the story (even an explanation to the quote seen above). Can you spot all the celebrities making their comic debut?
This issue Holt takes some time to visit the “small fry” and in doing so walks into a rather hilarious duo. A pair he admits is where he learned a lot about the biz from. It’s here, and also there, over there too, where Bergen has some fun with the panels (but let’s just focus on this one scene shall we?).
Holt’s arrival in the basement of the club comes via a page shrouded in darkness, minimal light leading our way as well as Holt’s as he moves about the page, the six panels of movement layered over a similar picture, and then comes the next page which has the brother’s ready to pull Holt (and the reader) into the party… well… three's a crowd, right? (or is it company?) The brothers begin to tell tales and the page that follows the beers being thrown back is a grand explosion (related to the story being told) – who authorized such an event? Holt’s old man!
Bergen outdoes himself with the second issue of Trista and Holt as his page layouts become more and more playful and are jam-packed with his creative narrative and images. This comic offers something new, something fresh, something suspenseful.
"Bergen outdoes himself with the second issue."
It seems that Mr. Bergen's creativity cannot be contained! Right off the heels of his magnum opus Bullet Gal he has set out on another journey of art and word, Trista & Holt.
This time Andrez delivers us a unique take on the legendary Celtic tale of Tristan and Iseult set in the '70, where a city is ruled by crime lords, dirty cops, and disco. Bergen brings his incredible talent of creating dirty, gritty hard boiled noir art and combines this with his silky smooth dialogue that flows through the pages.
Trista, the niece and heir to the Cornwall crime family, finds herself investigating an explosion that took out a major piece of Cornwall property. The main suspect in the explosion is Isidor "Anguish” Holt, leader of the largest crime family in the city, and father of Issy Holt. Hearing about the explosion too, Holt starts looking into it himself and hears that the rumor is his father gave the order... raising more questions than answers for him.
Having read the first two issues, once again Bergen has drawn me into his story. His amazing character development and slow burn story line keep you wanting to read the next issue, and the stylized mashed-up collage artwork takes the book past being a comic to a piece of art. I spend more time looking over Bergen’s pages then any other comic I read. I love trying to figure out where the picture came from or what famous person or scene he has used. My daughter came the other day wearing a shirt with a picture on it that I knew I had seen before, and I had. In Bullet Gal. Trista and Holt is the same way, like Angela Lansbury dropping the F-bomb, Paul Newman as Holt, George Reeves from the old Superman series, and if you look close enough even Bergen himself.
This comic book is not your normal super hero, in your face kind of book, but if you're looking for a new paradigm on comics then this is it.
In many ways, this comic is similar to creator Andrez Bergen’s previous comic endeavor, Bullet Gal. It’s done in the same black-and-white, digital photomanipulation art style. It’s got a strong female protagonist, and it’s got a definite noirish feel to it; however, even with these similarities, Trista & Holt manages to be a very different and distinct comic from Bullet Gal.
In the previous issue, we were introduced to Trista, a high-ranking member of a major mob family. We also got a brief glimpse of Issy Holt, a drunken, rich playboy who’s heir to the opposing mob family. In this issue, we get to see a bit more of Holt, as he climbs blearily out of bed at 4 in the afternoon and heads immediately to a disco.
Despite appearances, though, Holt is more than just a drunken screw up. He’s a smart man, who knows whom to talk to and whom to stay friendly with, in order to learn the things that are worth knowing. What’s more, he knows that it’s the people that everyone else tends to overlook, or take for granted, that have the most to teach.
Like most of Bergen’s work, there are a number or little bits thrown in mainly for his own amusement—and the amusement of those with a sharp enough eye to catch them. In this one, you might catch some obscure pop culture references, as well as a few “cameos” in the artwork if you pay attention—or if you read the author blurb at the end.
This is a fun, cool comic that’s a bit different from the norm. The combination of '40s noir and '70s disco isn’t one you’d think would work, but it does. Definitely looking forward to the next issue.
"The combination of '40s noir and '70s disco isn’t one you’d think would work, but it does."
TRISTA & HOLT #3
"Captures the spirit of noir so perfectly it hurts."
Trista & Holt #3 is another work from Andrez Bergen (IF? Commix) that captures the spirit of noir so perfectly it hurts.
What really got me by the throat was that this one was over far too soon and after the feast I experienced by reading all twelve issues of Bergen’s Bullet Gal a few weeks ago collected into one sumptuous volume, It’s Not You, It’s Me, I’m now left waiting hungrily for Trista & Holt #4 (if you haven’t caught all of Bullet Gal yet, 10-12 are yet to arrive in separate issues).
It’s the nature of Bergen’s work that the intoxicating images, motifs and dialogue come from across the entire landscape of literary and film noir and that’s in evidence here. Though it contains references from various eras, Bullet Gal seems more firmly established in the world of “high” noir, with archetypal noir imagery from the 1940’s existing in a digitized-techno narrative that’s completely classic and new (yes, I’m aware of the paradox there).
Trista & Holt #3 seems to turn that inside-out, with all the classic noir tropes seen here in the neo-noir of the 1970s. Instead of classic black gangster vehicles a la Capone and company traveling the streets of Heropa we’re treated to Ford Grand Torinos and muscle cars from the era of Starsky & Hutch.
Two brutal crime families, the Holts and the Cornwalls, each with a powerful matriarch, battle for ultimate supremacy. Violence erupts in the streets against one of the Holt’s guys, making headlines on the news and stirring up shock, blame and plans for revenge within the Holt family and a toxic but (of course) flawlessly beautiful femme fatale, Alaina Holt, takes action while her husband Isidore “Anguish” Holt has a meltdown. It’s definitely worth getting to know the dramatis personae of this corner of Bergen’s dark and fascinating universe.
I love the dynamic of the two warring families, each with its own thugs, wayward relatives and henchmen to contend with, and also the film noir convention of voice-over from the lovely and world-weary Trista, ally to Marcella “Queenie” Cornwall, and the appropriately jaded Issy Holt, whose favorite show, CHiPs, is interrupted by news of the family wheel man’s untimely demise. Perhaps Issy’s apparent dead-pan delivery illustrates the detachment necessary to exist in such a maelstrom of violence and treachery, the fabulous mid-century modern surroundings of his apartment notwithstanding.
No wonder he seeks escape in the company of Ponch and the gang, but Alaina isn’t about to let any of the men escape from reality for very long; she’s a woman of action, as is her nemesis, Queenie Cornwall. Like in Bullet Gal, the decisive action of the women propels the story forward and any signs of lingering in thought, grief and self-pity are severely frowned upon. There’s just no room for that here.
Something about the epic battles between these two families and the take-no-prisoner divas at the helm of each winks at the popular nighttime American soaps of the ‘80’s, such as Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest, only instead of oil, mining or wine, these gangster families deal directly in gun-power and turf-wars, and turn to violence as a way to get things done first instead of last.
If you’re a fan of noir, this is a must-read and you’ll be addicted immediately; and if you’re not a noir fan but you love new and innovative forms of story-telling, you have to check this out.
“Thinking about nothing else, except maybe the next drink… a martini, manhattan or a screwdriver? … when Ponch and his wheels disappeared from the screen.”
This issue of Trista and Holt delivers the message that things coming up are about to get crazy! But don’t worry, because this issue is filled with plenty of that old school detective fiction crazy already — including images of your favorite Hollywood stars in dazzling black and white!
Andrez Bergen, the author of Bullet Gal, takes us deep into the world of crime with this latest issue. We get a great scene featuring a trap laid for Holt’s longtime personal driver Lou Holden. The scene features images and even the car from Starsky and Hutch, which has been turned black and white by Bergen. With some of Mercella’s guys waiting for him at the destination this scene quickly takes the joyride and turns it into an old school gun fight, taking place at a whopping 60mph!!! (so says the speedometer on the page). During this scene Bergen has a lot of fun with the visuals on the page as well as having bullet shells sprinkling down among the sound effects of “BUDDA BUDDA” and “BOOM”.
This issue brings Bergen’s narrating style once again side by side with his creative take on visuals using various images and combing them together. This issue sets up events later to come, but doesn’t hold back from giving some powerful scenes from beginning to end — as one page hints at “And now? Shit’s going to really hit the fan.”
Newton’s third law states ” –For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction-. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects.” This is simple right? We all learned this in basic physics, as I sit in my chair writing this post the force of gravity pulling me down is countered by the force of the chair pushing up. Which shows you how powerful my chair is with my big ass in it, so lets move on. The third law continues to state “The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.” This is were the laws of physics break down when it comes to gangland wars. Gangland physics works like this, so eloquently stated by Mister Sean Connery, “…They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue…”
So, when a Cornwall house is blown to smithereens the laws of gangland physics cannot be broken, and blood must be spilled. The object of this reflected act is one of the trusted members of the Holt family who is gunned down setting in motion an uncontrollable chain reaction, like the splitting of an atom, that is set to rip these two family apart. Or to put more plainly “Shit’s going to really hit the fan!"
With this act of revenge we see Trista and Holt both being dragged into this impending war against their will. Both are being called on by their families to do something to either protect or avenge them. To do what’s right for the honor, or the love, of their clans. Each one of them is being manipulated by their powerful mothers, one saying “I need you” and the other “It’s your duty!”
Once again Mr. Bergen lays out more questions than answers, Who is this Norwegian that seems to have inside information? Why has Anguish Holt made a secret deal with the Cornwall’s to not pay their dues in three years? Could it be cause of the death of Trista father by the hands of “Duke” Morgan? To quote another famous thespian Paul Ruben, or better known as Pee Wee Herman, “It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…” We’ll all have to wait until issue #4, in June, to hopefully get some answer to these questions and to see who gets “whacked” next.
Check out the IF? Commix website to get this issue and any back issue you may have missed. Also, check out Andrez Bergen’s Brilliant other books Bullet Gal, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, and Tales to Admonish.