I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got one new comic plus a hard cover collection:

  • Echo -25
  • “Conan: Volume 9 Free Companions”
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    “Moving Pictures” by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

    Here’s a book that took me by surprise in that I had no idea it even existed. I usually keep up on the latest graphic novels and collections that are coming out but somehow I never saw mention of this book until I saw it on the shelf. I don’t know the Immonen’s work very well but it was the fact that this is a historical fiction story that got me to buy it.

    The story takes place during World War II in Paris when it was occupied by the Germans. The book jacket claims it’s about the “Disconcerting and dangerous private relationship” between the two lead characters Ila Gardner, a Canadian curator of a Paris museum, and Rolf Hauptmann, a German officer in charge of securing French works of art, but it’s really about Ila Gardner. I didn’t even read the book jacket first so I didn’t realize the two were involved in a physical relationship until late in the book.

    Ila’s story is one of confusion, loss, and a person who has lost her way in the world. At the beginning of the story Ila has a friend with her who Ila gives her passport too so that the friend can go back home to Canada but Ila refuses to go. I’m not sure why except maybe there was nothing to go back to Canada for. We are not privy to the characters thoughts and so only have their words to figure things out.

    A lot of the story takes place in the office/interrigation room of the German officer Haumptmann as he tries to get Ila to cooperate with him and reveal where certain works of art are. They are not even particularly valuable works but he wants her to tow the line. She is defiant but also doesn’t really want to stick her neck out. Plus she’s a low level curator so she doesn’t really know much about the important stuff.

    There are other everyday characters who come in and out of Ila’s life. She interacts with her co-workers and other people who want to conserve and hide France’s art. In hind sight knowing that she’s physically, I hesitate to call it romantically, involved with the German officer I wonder if some of her failures at saving some art was her tipping him off. I don’t know. He could have easily found out on his own and it’s not mentioned.

    The artwork in the book is a very high contrast black and white done in a simple shaky lined pen style. Though I liked it and the storytelling was good I wasn’t too fond of the shaky lined part. I just didn’t find it attractive and I’m not sure why they chose to do it that way. Maybe it had something to do with the reoccurring motif of bits of paper blown on the breeze.

    Overall I really like this book. I find the time it take place in, WWII, a very interesting time. It was a time when you could find yourself powerful or powerless based on what side you were on, what your choices were, and yet a lot of the time people had no choices. Ila’s story seems to be about the choices or non-choices she’s made. It’s a thoughtful book with no real heroes or villains despite being set in a time where heroes or villains abound.

    So if you’re a fan of historical fiction or comics that are about people then check this book out.