Self Made Hero logo

Black Paths

By David B.

Translated by Nora Mahony

Hardback, 128 pp, $24.95

1919: the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire is losing control of the city port of Fiume to pirates. A self-styled 'Pirate King', Gabriele d'Annunzio (poet, Italian war hero and Dadaist) storms the city with 3,000 loyal Italian footsoldiers. He declares Fiume a free Republic: a utopian city-state, with himself as Commander. The city soon descends into looting and surreal decadence, reminiscent of the last days of Rome. 

Amid this chaos, the beautiful Mina, a black-haired young singer, is lost in this city gone mad, consumed by a love affair with a young soldier. Haunted by the horror of the trenches, a soldier, Lauriano, hunts Fiume's alleys in vain for the ghost that haunts his dreams.

David B.

David B. is the Eisner-nominated author of Epileptic, an autobiographical story widely considered a masterpiece of the graphic novel medium. A founding member of the revolutionary French independent publisher L'Association, he is regarded as a giant among Bandes Dessinées artists. His many prizes include the Prix de Cheverny, the Ignatz Award and the Best Comic Book prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. His books include the graphic novels Black Paths and Best of Enemies (with Jean-Pierre Filiu).


"Black Paths isn’t a conventional love story; David B. is more interested in conveying a sense of this place, led by a self-proclaimed 'Pirate King', and exploring how ordinary people find ways to adjust to a world seemingly governed by whim."
— The A.V. Club
"Pulsing with magic, chaos and ghosts, Black Paths is the powerful story of a young soldier, Lauriano, looting, falling in love and attempting to bury his past amidst the post-World War I pandemonium in Fiume... I can't recommend this book enough."
— The Quietus