Created in 2000 by Claudio Nizzi (script) and Massimo Bonfatti (art), it's a total love song to the popular hard-boiled American crime pulps and detective movies of the 1940s, as well as a complete and utter send-up of the same subject matter.
Leo is the banana-faced private peeper who works for $25 a day, plus expenses. He carries a Browning automatic, drives a clunker and knows every dive bar, jook joint and back alley of 1940s Hollywood.
Unfortunately, he's just not that good a detective, but luckily for both Leo and readers, he's both amazingly resilient and incredibly persistent.
Not that everyone loves him, mind you. for example, the local chief of police, Nick Tracy, has no use for him. Then again, Norma, the owner of a local diner, thinks Leo is just swell.
But the real fun for sharp-eyed readers is the steady stream of nods, winks, coy allusions and blatant shout-outs to the icons of the genre. If you're a fan of this stuff -- and if you're reading this, you probably are -- this is one of the all-time great parodies of the genre. In fact, the challenge, according to Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Without Borders, may be "trying to find a character NOT based on some real or fictional personage... Author Claudio Nizzi has squeezed them all in (or paid tribute to them) under their own names or (as) thinly disguised (pseudonyms): Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dick Tracy, Darryl F. Zanuck, Marilyn Monroe, Sunset Boulevard, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato, Orson Welles, Erich von Stroheim, Peter Lorre, Greta Garbo, the Black Dahlia, Red Harvest (maybe), The Maltese Falcon (explicitly), Little Sister, The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, and even, God help me, Joel and Ethan Coen. (The Farewell My Lovely-inspired Velma appears here as Velma Lebowsky.)
And the artwork by Bonfatti is a wonder to behold, with the oversized feet, elongated noses and chins and oddly elastic faces strictly out of the Mad Magazine/Don Martin school, with a dash of R. Crumb freakshow just for fun.
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