Thursday, November 19, 2009

More novel graphics

Last month Jon Jordan sent along a generous package of graphic novels. Last week at Murder and Mayhem in Muskego, I talked with Brian Azzarello, author of one of the books.

In the opening pages of Filthy Rich, Azzarello's words and Victor Santos' art combine to tell the story in ways words alone could not, at least not so concisely.

The art plays against Azzarello's captions and moves the book into disquieting irony. The narrator, a football player forced out of the sport by a knee injury and something shadier as well, wryly casts his life as a fairy tale and himself as "a handsome prince, that everyone loved." Santos' rich black-and-white drawings, meanwhile, show the same narrator engaged in decidedly un-fairy-tale-like acts.

In Muskego, I buttonholed Azzarello, told him I admired his work (which also includes 100 Bullets and The Joker), and said I was fascinated, as a novice comics reader, by the ways pictures and words work together. I was pleased that he singled out the opening pages of Filthy Rich, just as I had.

Pages two and three tell us the fairy tale has ended, page three in five panels of jump cuts, from long shot to two-shot to extreme close-up to two more long shots from sharply different points of view. It's kinetic and exciting, and we don't know what it all leads to until a panel that takes up all of page four. The pace tells the story, but so do the words and the hulking size of the page-four panel.

(See two previous posts about comics here and here. In the first, I discuss graphics carrying the opening of an original story. In the second, art adds new dimensions in the graphic-novel adaptation of a great French crime novel.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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