1 Rutu Modan: Exit Wounds
This is a sensitive graphic narrative about the impossibility of getting to know the other. It is also about the risk, pain, and beuty of finding someone one can love. The story is about a search for Koby’s father, who might have died in a terrorist attack against a restaurant in a small town. But what was he doing there in the first place? Koby and his father were never close, and now a tall, tomboy girl, who claims that she is Koby’s father’s girlfriend, keeps on nagging him to investigate about the attack and hte possible death of the father. The dynamics of the relationship between Koby and the girl is beautifully represented: lack of trust, too much trust, preconceptions, misconceptions, and things that should not have been said. And the father turns out to be a person very different from the one Koby thought he knew, and the one the girl thought she knew… but of course, I have no idea about what he is really like — I doubt he is like anything.
Lynda Barry is fantastic. Anything by her is superb. This book is subtitled “coloring book.” It is black and white, and features lines, as coloring books should, that outline naked ladies. Every page is also a card from a deck of card with the symbols of diamonds, hearts, and the other two. And the book is huuuuuuge.
The ladies are very diverse. Some are playmates, posing. Perfect. Some are fat. Some are pregnant. Some are in tribal outfits of various cultures. Some are old. Some are clothed. Some are breastfeeding.
It is like a Dove commercial about loving your body plus embracing that you are different but cleverer. It is a very very clever book. In the Dove commercial the bodies are still retouched in photoshop. It still wants to sell you their products. Here it is about the potential of the body to perform and embrace various roles. It is equally about the reader’s body (male or female) that reacts to the pictures. The topic is also raised in the narrative under the pictures or gigantic cards.
I haven’t talked about the narrative yet. A teenager girl is talking, who is too young to see sex the way adults do (if there is a way adults see sex – I don’t think there is a single one) — so she is a child, but she starts to notice things or she is made to notice things. All of Barry’s books go against the notion that children can be protected against adult problems: problems find them, and they have to cope alone. Sex is one of these contested spheres.
I refreain from posting provocative and obviously sexual images now, because in the past my other blog was reported for pornographic content when I posted Edward Weston.
3. Above the Dreamless Dead. World War I in Poetry and Comics. Ed Chris Duffy
This anthology is sooo needed! I wish every school library had a copy. Some canonical and some lesser known poems by poets who were fighting in the Great War are either beautifully illustrated or rendered as comics. A really great number of artists took part in the collection, and the resulting catalogue of styles is a great benefit of the book: there are innumerable ways to experience horror and die.
The structure of the book is chronological, going from enthusiastic war propaganda to the trenches and to a haunted survival. I greatly enjoyed that some soldier’s songs were also comicized, if that is not an existing word yet, I take the credit for it. They had a more cartooney, more funny style that really helped to ease up and to digest the whole volume, which is very very dark.