Comic-A-Week: Feb 6-12 Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

For the first time during this project, I have come across a comic that confuses me – I do not understand why the authors chose to tell this story with this medium. The story itself is interesting enough – Ila, a foreign curator at a French museum who decides to stay after German occupation begins, has a complex and tense relationship with the German officer who has been ordered to inventory the collection. While the story is unique, a feat for a market inundated with WWII fiction, the art does not add much to the story and misses out on an opportunity to incorporate more of the art in the museum.

I did not respond well to the minimalist style of this comic. The story is complex and rich, but the art does not reflect that. While the art in a comic does not always have to perfectly match the tone of the story, it should do the best job possible to tell the story.  I’m not convinced that minimalist, negative-space reliant art truly tells this story well. There was a lot that was skipped over and too much was left to the imagination. A little ambiguity is good, but honestly it just frustrated me here. There was, however,  a lot of good tension in this story, that unfortunately didn’t play out “on screen”, for lack of a better term. There were times when the art style benefited the story. It set the mood and the use of shadowing was brilliant. One of my favorite panels is when we finally see Rolf’s face. Before that he had been almost entirely in shadow. The opening sequence, without any words, was beautiful and used the simple style of the art in a way that benefited the story.

The more comics I read, the more I realize what makes a good one. Though there are wordless comics, for me what defines a comic is neither the art nor the words, but how they work together. For me, that means that the art and the words  have to add something different and complimentary. If they aren’t holding their own, it’s not worth it to me. The Immonen’s had an opportunity here to do a lot with the artwork in the museum and using that to illustrate their story, but aside from a few panels, they didn’t take advantage of that. Maybe I wanted too much out of this little comic. When I found out it started as a serialized comic, the structure made a little bit more sense. There were gaps in the story, which might have been less jarring if I was waiting a few weeks or months to read each strip.

Here’s something interested – while I was doing my research for I saw some of the illustrations on screen and I was much more impressed by them. This is a comic that was meant to be seen one panel or strip at a time on the internet – it makes more sense for the story, it makes more sense for the art and I think I would have appreciated this a lot more if I had read it as was originally intended.

Am I in a bad mood, or what? Everything I have disliked lately has been something almost universally loved. But I have been reading things that are just amazing, so when something doesn’t live up to that, I’m more critical. If I had read this graphic novel after reading, say, Mother, Come Home, I probably would have liked it more. Maybe I will revisit this one in a few months and see how I feel about it.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Olduvai Reads also has a post about Moving Pictures. Do you? Leave a link in the comments and I’ll include your post here.


3 thoughts on “Comic-A-Week: Feb 6-12 Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

  1. I read this in January but I didn’t review it because I couldn’t figure out how I felt about it. Two months later I’m still not sure! But I think you make good points about why it could have worked better. And I’m completely with you on what makes a good comic.

  2. You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head with what makes a good comic. It’s no so much how good the art is or how good the words are but how well they work together to tell the story. That is what makes comics exciting and challenging!

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