"Captures the spirit of noir so perfectly it hurts."
"I love the way Bergen creates
his comics... he brings his story to life,
has an eye for the fantastical, and is always
trying to up the last
thing he put out."
Coming Up Comics
"Trista is a breath of fresh air."
Secret Life of Comics
TRISTA & HOLT #7
Trista & Holt #7, a double issue in Andrez Bergen’s noir crime saga based on the legend of Tristan & Iseult, features inspired artwork by Bergen and this time out Renee Asher Pickup writes the origin story of Trista, taking us back to Trista’s childhood and teenage years where we learn why she serves Marcella Cornwall, and the history of Trista’s complicated relationship with friend/ mentor/ father figure, Governal.
The previous six issues have showcased Bergen’s mastery of neo-noir, set in the 1970’s, in an unnamed urban landscape blending disco-era glitz with gangland gutter grittiness. References to ‘70’s television, film, fashion and pop culture come fast and furious along with hallucinogenic interludes and dream-like imagery. This issue incorporates many of those elements as well, and like in earlier issues, #7 features the noir convention of first-person narration and witty dialogue.
Here, however, the narrative shifts more readily from noir to gothic and back again, and the artwork follows suit. We meet Trista’s mother, Blanche, and step-father, DuBois (real “pieces of work”), see the foreboding house where Trista grew up and learn why she’s more than ready to go away with Governal, represented mostly by handsome images of Patrick McGoohan circa The Prisoner.
The blending of narrative and visuals that take Trista from the age of dolls and crayons to guns and cigarettes is handled quite cinematically. Images of childhood alongside the threat of violence, seamless passage of time, and thematic loss of innocence brings to mind Night of the Hunter, the “breakfast table” scene(s) from Citizen Kane, and Pretty Baby, respectively, only instead of Brooke Shields’s pre-teen character in that last film being initiated into the world’s oldest profession, Trista learns the intricacies of firearms and cards as she’s initiated into the family crime business. The appealing, ever-shifting images of Trista and the playful spontaneity of her dialogue undercut the seriousness of her situation but she’s so desperate to escape her step-father’s reach she’ll do just about anything to acquire any degree of independence, no matter how compromised it ultimately might be.
Trista’s first meeting with mob matriarch Marcella Cornwall couldn’t be tenser. Again, Marcella is portrayed by images of Angela Lansbury, this time seemingly larger than life. We get a sense of the impressive enormity of her mansion, a gothic palace with a massive chandelier as a centerpiece, and staffed by a security force clad in outlandish disco outfits, with the exception of Geoffrey, played by a terribly proper Michael Caine wielding a double-barreled shotgun at the front gate. Marcella of Issue #7 is like a less delusional, more proactive Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, had Norma ever abandoned the idea of a Hollywood comeback and focused instead on building an organized crime empire (imagine Joe Gillis, Max, and the ”waxworks” as lackeys and gunsels).
Trista’s way too young to be so jaded, and that’s the point. She still has the heart of a young girl but her cynicism is her armor in this new realm. Dark as Marcella’s world is it’s preferable to the one Trista is escaping and this may be the only thing that enables Governal to carry out her training with such care and precision, essentially escorting a child into a violent criminal underworld with a reassuring smile and a twinge of conscience at the same time.
Trista & Holt #7 takes a step back in time while making a leap forward in character development regarding Trista, Governal and even Marcella, who’s a tad more nuanced here, prior to the bloody chaos she’s set in motion in earlier issues. Bergen’s collaboration with Renee Asher Pickup in this double issue makes for a most refreshing and unusual summer reading experience: a Warholian fantasy where Philip Marlowe holds court at a table in the back of Studio 54, black & white home movies of a very young Edie Sedgewick flickering in the background. Then again, reading Trista & Holt in general (and this issue in particular) is like buying “candy” from a kind, handsome stranger at a nightclub. You won’t know what it’ll do to your mind ‘til you try it.
The latest installment in IF? Commix’s new series Trista & Holt is a double issue that takes a step back from the seedy criminal underworld torn apart by the Cornwall/Holt feud and instead focuses on Trista’s past and how she became the hardened killer she is today. For this excursion down memory lane original creator Andrez Bergen hands the reigns to American writer Renee Pickup, but still contributes with his own quirky brand of mix and matched artwork. Even with Pickup holding the pen this crime noir story inspired by the classic tale of Tristan and Iseult remains a slick, stylish, and visually engaging series.
As the feud between the Cornwall and Holt crime families mounts, the lives of young playboy Isidor Holt and Trista Rivalen, advisor to the Cornwall matriarch, become forever entwined. In the aftermath of Moore Holt’s death at the hands of Trista and her subsequent rescue by Isidor, she now lies dying of a fatal knife wound in her enemy’s house. In her death throes Trista recalls the short and violent life that brought her to this fate. From her troubled childhood under the watchful eye of her step-father, to her training with her protector Governal, to her first ever meeting with Marcella “Queenie” Cornwall. It’s a really interesting journey from innocent child to cold blooded killer with Pickup’s narrative style emulating that of Bergen peering behind Trista’s tough exterior to provide some great insight into the character.
Perhaps the biggest revelation from this issue is the depth of her relationship with Governal. Up until this point Governal has been on the sidelines of the feud and seemed to be a fairly minor character, but is now being shown in an entirely different light. After Trista’s mother shacks up with Duboise Rohault, Governal takes it upon himself to raise the young girl and teach her how to survive among two-faced criminals. It’s very reminiscent of Leon: The Professional as the ageing hitman teaches her the tricks of the trade from playing cards, to reading facial expressions, to blowing a hole in a man’s head (a skill that comes in very handy for Trista in later life). It’s very cool and hints that this relationship may become far more important in the main story.
Overall, it’s a great issue that gives a double helping of the grimy black and white underworld of Trista & Holt and delves far deeper into the history and relationships of the characters that inhabit it. Trista & Holt currently stands as a truly great series and I hope it continues to do so.
The latest issue of Trista & Holt is a little different. First, it’s double-sized. Secondly, it’s almost entirely backstory, telling us about Trista’s childhood. Most importantly, though, it’s not written by series creator Andrez Bergen. The art is still Bergen’s, done in his signature photomanipulation style, but the story is written by guest author Renee Asher Pickup.
I was curious right from the beginning about how another author would handle Bergen’s work and, I’ll admit, a little wary, as well. But, this is a great issue: possibly one of my favorites in the series so far.
We begin, as I mentioned earlier, in Trista’s childhood. Trista’s father has just died, and her mother Blanche has already gotten remarried to a man named DuBois. (I wonder if Bergen picked that name combination, or if Pickup did.) Trista is largely ignored and neglected, except by Governal, the man who is later to become her lieutenant in her Aunt Marcella’s organization.
But, Governal is much more than that to her. He’s a friend, a confidante, and surrogate father to Trista. He teaches her how to shoot, how to play poker, and, most importantly, how to read people—all in preparation for the day she’ll eventually meet Aunt Marcella and have the opportunity to join her crime family. Through this issue, we see the relationship between Trista and Governal, and the relationship between her and her aunt, both of which are essential to the story, as well as fascinating to watch.
The art in this issue is top notch, as well. I was particularly delighted to see Governal portrayed by images of Patrick McGoohan from The Prisoner. There are plenty of other noteworthy celebrity guests in this issue, as well, but I’ll let you find them for yourself. That’s always one of my favorite parts of reading Trista & Holt.
This is a great issue and definitely worth reading. I wonder if Bergen has plans for any other guest writers in this series. It’s proving to be a cool and effective way of switching things up and keeping the audience on their toes—which has always been something Bergen enjoys doing in his comics. But, at any rate, whether it’s Bergen or someone else doing the writing, this is a unique and exciting comic, and I really enjoy it.
TRISTA & HOLT #8
"The combination of '40s noir and '70s disco isn’t one you’d think would work, but it does."
Andrez Bergen’s neo-noir series Trista & Holt continues with issue 8, which contains still more twists and turns than the last. This time the focus is on Issy Holt’s father, Isidor “Anguish” Holt, and the story of his rise as an underworld boss. Discovering Anguish’s background, where he comes from, and where his loyalties lie, throws light on a corner of this universe that until now has been shrouded in shadow.
True to Bergen’s method of using photos of famous actors and celebrities past and present to represent his characters, Anguish Holt here is portrayed by a very sober-looking, no-nonsense Gary Oldman, perfect for the tenor and tone of this issue as his true feelings toward his late brother-in-law Moore, are revealed, along with Anguish’s difficult and winding path to his current identity.
While an important character in the overall story of Trista & Holt, in previous issues Anguish has taken a back seat to his terrifyingly proactive wife, Alaina, who misses no opportunity to belittle Anguish for his emotional outbursts, especially following that of the death of loyal Holt wheel man, Lou Holden. Far from being simply an automaton carrying out orders for Anguish, Alaina and company, Lou was a close friend and confidante; he and Anguish knew each other from way back, and issue 8 explains their early connections and Lou’s influence on Anguish’s ascent to the upper echelons of the organized crime food chain. Lou’s funeral is also where Issy Holt and Trista Rivalen first meet, by the way—another fateful Hitchcockian crisscross in this saga.
Issue 8 adds to the sweep of Trista & Holt as a complete, well-rounded, fully realized epic: a world of its own with roots in ancient romance (based on the legend of Tristan & Iseult) and the great gangster narratives that have endured through the years (Little Caesar, The Godfather).
Anguish Holt’s backstory is as tragic as it is fascinating, adding another dimension to an already rich cast of characters. Anguish, formerly in the background, comes fully into focus now, and though he’s definitely no saint, he’s earned the right to push back against Alaina’s blithe insults. And he does, in ways she doesn’t even yet realize. The fall-out from all this is bound to be explosive—perhaps literally.
One has to wonder just how much Issy Holt really knows about his father’s past and what he would think about Anguish’s painful journey to gangland crime boss, a position that allows Issy to live the lifestyle of minor royalty, but which also makes him a target of sorts for anyone who would want to get back at his father—which could someday include his mother. As seen in earlier issues, family ties do not make one exempt from acts of violence and vengeance, in fact they only reinforce the unpleasant responsibility of carrying them out.
Issue 8 shows that there’s much more going on with Anguish than we ever realized before. He’s earned his name and then some, and Alaina should definitely NOT underestimate him!
Story: 10 Artwork: 10 Overall: 10 Recommend: Buy
This issue of Trista & Holt is another digression from the main story. In the last issue, we covered the backstory of Trista, as she was groomed for a position in her aunt’s criminal empire. This issue, we delve into the backstory of Isidor Holt. Isidor Holt Sr., that is: father of our male protagonist and head of the Holt crime family.
We begin in the present, as Isidor (also called Anguish, though not in this issue) is called to identify the body of his brother-in-law, Moore Holt, who was shot by Trista a few issues ago.
“But wait!” you ask. “Why does his brother-in-law have the same last name as him?” Well, as it happens, “Holt” isn’t even Isidor’s real last name. As he leaves the morgue, we see his early years during World War II, where he was imprisoned at Auschwitz. Then, we watch as he makes the first few crucial connections that will aid him in forging what will one day become the most powerful criminal empire in the unnamed city where our story takes place.
This is another really fun issue. I must say, I’m liking the digressions and backstory even more than the story itself. Of course, once we resume the regular story, I’m sure it will be that much better for all the things we’ve learned. It’s been a good comic from the beginning, but now it’s beginning to pick up even more, giving us a story that’s unique, engaging, and, most of all, fun. If you’re not reading Trista & Holt, I highly recommend you start.
“So you’re the one Sol spoke of. ‘E said you would come. I was ‘oping you would be more ‘andsome.”
Fancy people talk funny.
Writer and artist Andrez Bergen brings us into his story of crime and murder once again with issue #8 of Trista and Holt. This story, along with Bergen’s Bullet Gal, is heavily influenced by the noir genre of film and comics – we even see some familiar faces from such representations through his use of real actors in his panels (Is that Gary Oldman?!).
Something Bergen does well in this issue is tell two separate stories in a fluid manner. The first part of the issue focusing more on the identification of a certain someone’s body – and what people really thought of him, while the second part brings us into a whole new scenario entirely (as discussed below).
A piece following the quote from above shows some of Bergen’s ability to play with the noir setting of his story through the phrasing used by his characters.
“I had to deal with a fading French beauty with attitude problems and an outrageous french accent, but that was fine. I’d had my fill of fading such people over the years.”
Bits like this are quite prevalent throughout the story, often times containing the same tone in regards to the quips about certain characters.
We’re introduced to Sol Brodsky through a similar bit of noir-esque monologue as he’s approached by Isidor Holt. He’s the someone the woman with the “outrageous french accent” was trying to protect – he also has a good hold on money and authority in this world.
The scene where we first see him shows some of Bergen’s play with the lighting in his scenes (the panels mainly shown in black and white) as Sol sits alone in his wheelchair. Behind him the thin sheets for blinds are open just enough to let a beam of bright sunlight pour into the room, it hits only the right side of Sol’s body, and casts the rest in shadow as we walk in alongside Holt – creating a beautiful scene and introduction.
Andrez Bergen opens up the doors into new scenarios and plots in the world of Trista and Holt. This issue takes it a bit slower in terms of the big time action, but keeps its pace with witty remarks and plenty of hard-boiled scenery. Now we sit in wait for issue #9…wondering if we’ll get a whole issue written in that “outrageous french accent”.
The latest issue in this brilliant modern version of the classic Tristan and Iseult tale from publisher IF? Commix takes a step back from the tragically entwined lives of our titular lovers and instead the spotlight falls on Holt patriarch Isidor, father of Issy and brother of the now deceased Moore Holt. The backstory of one of the series’ most mysterious characters is finally revealed through flashbacks examining his up bringing, rise to power, and his relationship with the Cornwalls. It’s a nice change of pace for the series and gives an interesting look at a new character.
In the aftermath of Moore Holt’s death at the hands of Trista Rivalen, Trista is seriously injured and finds herself in the care of the love struck Issy Holt; heir to the Holt family and her sworn enemy. As the two take secret refuge from the warring families, Isidor Holt finds himself staring at his brother’s body lying in the morgue. This prompts Isidor to reconsider the events of his life from his prosecution in the Nazi concentration camps, to his escape to America, to his taking of a new name and establishing himself as criminal overlord. Isidor’s cold narrative guides the reader through these tragic events in the same slick manner as in the previous issues of this great series.
If you have kept up to date with this series at all and my reviews of the last seven issues you will know just how much I adore the artwork. It’s stylish, weird, beautiful, and Bergen endeavours to give every page a completely unique feel making it an absolute joy to gaze at each panel. The story is good, the characters are great, but it’s the artwork that is the real highlight of Trista & Holt.
Over the past few issues the story has noticeably slowed down after the death of Moore Holt and, although it is enjoyable to learn more about the main characters, I hope the series will get back on track with the tragic love story and family feud just to have a more obvious direction. That is the first gripe I have had so far and I suppose that says something about the quality of this series.
I’ve loved this series from the very start and it continues to be a beautiful, gripping, and unique story.
TRISTA & HOLT #9
The latest issue of Trista & Holt again plays with alternate points of view and unusual storytelling techniques. This time, most of the issue is narrated by Issy Holt’s old friend, Lou—who, if you’ll recall, was killed several issues ago. His ghost, along with the ghost of Moore Holt (shot and killed by Trista), wander the halls of a hospital and observe the action—though they’re not as up to date on the story as we are.
There’s less plot to this issue than in some of the previous ones, but it’s still a fun and entertaining read. Heck, Lou, and Moore could have their own spinoff series, walking through walls, observing the action, and offering their commentary. I’d read it.
Series creator Andrez Bergen always manages to make things interesting while keeping the audience on their toes. It’s a well-crafted comic that creates a diverse and fascinating world, then explores that world in new and different ways. The artwork is always fun, too, as Bergen’s trademark photomanipulation style takes a series of otherwise unrelated images and compiles them into a cohesive story. All in all, this is a great comic and a fun read. If you’re a fan of noir crime thrillers or comics that experiment with different narrative styles, then Trista & Holt is definitely worth your time.
“I guess I’m a ghost. The fact I can see right through my hand is a minor giveaway.”
I’m no geologist, but it does seem like he may be a ghost. Who should we call though? I wonder if Bill Murray is busy…
This issue of Trista and Holt by Andrez Bergen tells a bit of a different story than your everyday comic.
Issue #9 follows around Lou, driver for the Holt family, who walks through the issue as a ghost, even at times exhibiting a fourth wall breaking ability. Bergen does a great job at introducing this new take on the character as we even get some comical instances involving Lou’s first round at being a ghost. One of the instances involving him expressing how he probably could have levitated up to the floor above him while in a hospital instead of using the elevator, but alas, such things take practice.
Using Lou as the narrator this issue Bergen is able to show us some of the events following Lou’s death, since naturally a ghost would want to witness their own funeral (a bit of a chilling concept outside of the fictional world). Bergen uses real images here to show us these events, including a look at Lou’s car after he makes a comment on how filthy it is after the shooting.
The artwork on this issue, once again composed of various images photoshopped together, shows how Bergen has been evolving his craft as the series progresses. A great page comes fairly early in the issue showcasing rain falling over the city. Bergen depicts some of the drops as real droplets, which fits with the images of real people he places throughout the issue. These droplets even fall into the next page, and then eventually are commented on by Lou (during a fourth wall breaking moment).
“Like this kid, the girl blubbering in the rain on the opposite page.”
This quote brings some of Bergen’s humor into the mix as well, which leads into even more coming from the character Lou as the issues progresses.
Something Bergen has been doing well with this series is making each issue feel like its own individual story, and yet still connected to the main story line (he also did this with Bullet Gal). Even if you haven’t been reading Trista and Holt this issue is loaded with enough to keep you entertained.