A story like no other, a firsthand peek behind the curtain of the Italian American mafia and a heartfelt story of fatherhood, is soon coming to the comics format by way of Dynamite Entertainment. The publisher has licensed writer James M. LaRossa Jr.’s memoir of his father, to bring visuals and a new audience to this compelling story.
“If one were to choose a trial lawyer whose life reflected the unique characteristics of America’s ‘Wild West’ of a criminal justice system in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, that person likely would be my father, Jimmy LaRossa,” shared James LaRossa Jr. “Thanks to Dynamite, which is bringing in a team of the most talented creators and writers, led by editor Matt Idelson, the creative journey that is Last of the Gladiators, A Son’s Memoir of Love, Redemption, and the mob, is ready to join the ranks of the wildest graphic novels. As his son and confidant, my dad revealed to me at the end of his life the secrets of his courtroom dramas and eccentric clients, which included the most feared Mafia chiefs, assassins, counterfeiters, money launderers, defrocked politicians of every stripe, and bankers arriving in the dead of night in their private jets. These clients sought the counsel of one man—my father. All I can say is, you better buckle up for the ride.”
The book, entitled Last of the Gladiators: A Memoir of Love, Redemption, and the Mob by the Son of the Legendary Trial Lawyer Jimmy LaRossa, may be published in this new format under an altered title, while maintaining the spirit of the original. This is part of a planned True Crime line in Dynamite’s library.
Jimmy LaRossa lived a full life, from the marines to one of the most prosperous, and infamous to some, defense attorneys in the United States. Among his most high profile cases included defending some of the biggest names in organized crime like Paul Castellano, sparring with New York’s top prosecutors of the crackdown era. This rough life provided for his family, but often kept him at a distance. To a young James, his dad often came across as more of a secret agent than a lawyer.
Years later, ailing in health, James Jr. connects with his father to provide comfort and connection to his final time on this Earth. Over the next five years, the two enjoyed quality time together, plenty of favorite Italian meals, hit up the local beaches, and embark on some travel. Decades on, the two are able to make up for lost time in their relationship and share their stories.
Following Jimmy’s peaceful passing, what resulted is an emotional chronicle by James of his father’s vivid life and their relationship. Jimmy LaRossa was truly one of the Last of the Gladiators, standing toe to toe with drug runners, crime lords, corrupt politicians, and all manner of crooks and characters in the turbulence of 20th century New York. At the heart of the novel is a love story between father and son, now soon to be translated to a new medium.
“This is an incredible book that James wrote about his father and his father’s experiences, and it draws you in. The best comparison I can make is that it’s Law and Order meets Goodfellas, and draws you in as much as the original Godfather novel,” said Nick Barrucci, Dynamite CEO and Publisher. “Everyone involved felt this was a unique piece of not only important history, but a powerful story about family, sacrifice, and living a full life. I also can’t thank Ken Abrams enough for bringing this opportunity to us. Above all else, it’s a compelling and entertaining web of tales, and we can’t wait to present it in a new way for all kinds of readers. Working with James, we’ll also be taking the project out to studios to continue to grow the audience.”