Saturday, February 9, 2008

Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

When it comes to graphic novels I'm of two minds; I've never been entirely captivated and moved by one the way I have been by a novel. And yet, good ones have an indeniable quality that rises above the so-called lo-brow comic book format. I express this ambivalence in my review that appeared in the Saturday Gazette (link below). I say in the review that I think the term "graphic novel" is unfair, because it leads the reader to expect the work to possess excellence on both visual and narrative levels, which seems to me somewhat unreasonable. I've yet to read a graphic novel that manages to reach a level of storytelling that matches its obvious visual quality. Most graphic novelists are, in fact, trained graphic artists and not writers, and it tends to show. The form is actually most suitable for collaboration. Just as in film there are writers and directors and cinematographers, each bringing his/her own expertise to the artform, why do we not see more graphic artists collaborating with novelists on books? Exit Wounds is recommended. The work has depth and it's visually quite exquisite. But reading it I still could not help but wonder if more could have been done with the narrative in terms of character development and plot.

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