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.

Review – The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

the_little_strangerDear Sarah Waters,

Are we friends yet?  We’re three books into this relationship, which I know is not nearly as close as you’ve gotten to be with other readers.  I know, I know that I need to read your other novels, your starters, your masterpieces.  Tipping the Velvet and Affinity are at the top of my TBR list, so please don’t get too mad at me.  But here we are again, I’ve finished reading The Little Stranger and I’m having mixed feelings about this!  I wish that I didn’t have to say this in a letter, but I doubt you’d take a phone call from me, considering we’ve never actually met and I’m 95.6% sure that you don’t know I exist.   Plus, you probably don’t want my advice because I am a minion and you are SARAH WATERS caps lock. Unless you’ve Googled “Sarah Waters Review The Night Watch” in which case, I am on the first page!

First, let me sing you some praises, because you certainly deserve them.  The Little Stranger scared me, and while it’s true that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to ghost stories, there are absolutely some bone-chilling moments in this book.  You also know how to pull a twist so delicate that we don’t even know it’s happening, but it’s been there all along.  Kudos.  I don’t know how you do it, but you give even the most seasoned plot-guesser a run for their money, I’m sure.  Your characters are so realistic that I’m pretty sure I know them.  Especially Kay from The Night Watch and Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger.  I am also sure that I’ve been to the Hundreds before, even though it probably doesn’t exist outside of these pages.  You’re just so good at putting me somewhere that I lose grip on my own reality, and believe me that is not a complaint.

With every book of yours I have read, it has been like a roller coaster ride of emotion.  Between Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger I have gone from mystery, eroticism, WWII, drama, aristocracy, women!, men!, ghosts, betrayals, bombs.  There have been moments of pure joy, love, and wonderfulness.  But, I cannot lie to you, there are moments when I think you could cut back the pages just a wee bit.  I get a little tired sometimes and I just want things to move a little faster.   Lord knows, you can spin a yarn and it is good.  I’m so torn!  I don’t want you to cut back, but I want the books to be shorter, but then I don’t want you to lose your wonderful detail!  I want you to trim things down a bit, but I’d be kicking myself if I lost parts of your book.  Plus, you put me in a place so convincingly that I wouldn’t give that up for anything.  If losing that sense of scene is what it would cost me to fix this problem then forget I ever mentioned it.

So really, this is just a wishy-washy letter that is me, telling you, that I like to read your books but sometimes they make me tired.  Maybe I just don’t have the stamina for your awesomeness, so really you should ignore this all together.  But I do have a secret to tell you: I don’t think you’ve written your best book yet.  I think you’re keeping it all locked up and secret and one day you’re going to whip it out and it’s going to smack us in the face.  Because you’re like that and it will be amazing.

Sincerely, lovingly, adoringly, wishy-washily,




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

Other reviews: A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Shelf Love, A Life in Books, Fleur Fisher Reads, Farm Lane Books Blog, S. Krishna’s Books