Agustin Comotto, 155 Simon Radowitzky
Nordica Libros: Madrid, 2015; 270pp; ISBN 9788416830039
Simon Radowitzky remains, sixty years after his death in exile in Mexico, a mythical figure of Argentine anarchism. In 1909, this Jewish immigrant from Russia assassinated the chief of police of Buenos Aires, Ramon Falcon, avenging a massacre of workers at a May Day demonstration. He then spent twenty-one years in prison in the Argentine Siberia of Ushuaia in Patagonia, where he was regularly brutalised; was released as a result of a huge public campaign and deported to Uruguay, where he would soon again be imprisoned; was freed again as a result of a campaign and went to Spain, where he briefly fought for the forces of the CNT-FAI during the Civil War, before being put in charge of their archives, transporting them to safety in France at war's end, at which point he settled in Mexico, living out his days under a pseudonym before dying in 1956.
His story has been engagingly told by the popular historian of Argentine anarchism, Osvaldo Bayer, in his book Los anarquistas expropriadores, Simon Radowitzky y othros ensayos, in the film Hijo del Pueblo, and in the thorough 2010 biography by Alejandro Marti. The latter, unfortunately, suffered from a great amount of padding, Radowitzky not entering his own biography until page ninety-seven, following over-extensive background on events in Argentina leading up to the assassination of Falcon. The new graphic novel by Agustin Comotto, 155 Simon Radowitzky, is the most thorough and moving of all the existing versions of his life.
Comotto has clearly relied on the Guevara biography, or consulted many of the same documents, for many of the details overlap, but where Marti tends to bury us under extraneous detail, or endless, irrelevant excerpts from Radowitzky's surviving letters, Comotto, taking advantage of the fictional format, focuses on the man as much as on the image of the martyr.
Within the format of the...