Friday, April 25, 2014

Black Is The Color

I've always wished that more people considered graphic novels to be real literature.  Not every one of them is going to be a masterpiece, of course.  (Take, for example, the extravagantly designed and inexplicably award-festooned "Return of the Dapper Men":  lovely art....terrible, muddled, underdeveloped story.)  But you can say the same for any type of literature.  A lot of graphic novels provide transcendent reading experiences, because they do focus so much on the visual.  One of my recent favorites has been "Black Is The Color", by Julia Gfrorer.

I find myself returning to this book over and over.  It's a quick little read unless you linger over the images, which reveal something new every time you look at them.  The tone is beautifully melancholy and dark.  The mermaids are nothing like the Disney type everyone's gotten used to;  They're much more....real, I guess.  Much more like actual sea creatures, with black eyes and sharp teeth.  They are like modern versions of the sirens of ancient myth, concerning themselves mostly with music and the making of it.  They talk like hipsters, and humans are an amusing curiosity to them.  Even when one of them discovers a shipwrecked sailor alone in a dinghy, waiting for death, she passes time with him like a cat would with a new toy.  She seems to genuinely care for him in some way, but her overall detachment is always at the forefront.

The dialogue throughout is simple and to the point, and the ending is poignant and sad, as the endings of all good graphic novels should be.  Highly recommended, especially if you're new to the genre and want to start off with one of the better, more artistic offerings.


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