The Magical Twins (Les Jumeaux Magiques in the original French) was the first collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky and Georges Bess. It was originally published in 1987 in the French comics magazine Le Journal de Mickey. Although ostensibly intended for young readers, The Magical Twins contains all the imaginative transformation we expect from a book written by Jodorowsky.
The book opens on a magical bird, Lyrena, a distant cousin of The Incal’s Deepo, racing to deliver an urgent message to Kether, the “city of the pure spirit” at the center of the kingdom. In Kabbalah, Kether (meaning “crown”) is the highest sphere of the Tree of Life — the “source of all light,” as the comic says. This very first panel wonderfully shows us what a master Jodorowsky is — creating a world for children but refusing to water down any of the story, knowing that they will “get it.” This is mirrored in the structure of the story itself, as the young royal twins, Mara and Aram, slowly learn along with with reader what is needed to save the kingdom.
The story proceeds when Lyrena’s message arrives and the children subsequently set out to free their father, King Jodhia. As with any good coming of age story, they must face the many dangers in crossing the Four Forbidden Islands before the villainous Tartarath will even agree to fight them. As the King’s message fades, he advises his offspring to “focus all your attention on your five senses.” Invaluable advice as the trio encounters challenge after challenge where, like the first rule of Magic warns us, nothing is as it seems.
The Magical Twins is full of Jodorowsky’s wisdom and invention. Pervading every page are the notions that one must face challenges head on, and in doing so it is possible to transform the energy behind these difficulties from negative to positive, making it available to aid you in future. Or, as Jodorowsky might literally phrase it, gaining control of our demons to later use them as angels. Jodorowsky lets his imagination and childlike wonder reign free as the trio encounters saw-birds, fish-scented flowers, a candy island, and a nation of inescapably depressed citizens where the path to the governor is made by that leader’s own tears. This last trial contains the wonderful line, “Why, when joy is here, the exit is everywhere.”
Bess does an excellent job of rendering a children’s fantasy world full of adult challenges. Severe enough to be taken seriously, the demons and landscapes they inhabit are neither too off-putting nor too cute. Their portrayal reinforces the message that facing adversity allows you the chance to overcome it. Credit must also be given to colorist Jean-Jacques Rouger whose palette helps draw one into the wonder of these multi-toned illusory tests.
With its positive spiritual vision and Jodorowskian playfulness-in-the-face-of-death, The Magical Twins is a book to be enjoyed and learned from by readers of all ages.