Moving Pictures

Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, Top Shelf, $14.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-60309-049-0
First presented as a Web comic, this subtle, mature book details Ila Gardner's life in a France first threatened, then occupied by Nazi Germany. Employed as a museum curator and in charge of primarily minor works, Ila uses what little power she has to protect France's art from the rapacious Nazis by sending works into the safety of storage down in the museum's poorly documented basement. Aloof and seemingly indifferent to the events around her, in reality Ila is consumed with a genuine but ineffectual outrage over the course of history in Europe. Stuart Immonen's art is simple and starkly contrasted, at times as difficult to read as Ila herself. The face of the occupiers is the curiously sympathetic Rolf Hauptmann, the man who is by turns Ila's opponent, lover, protector, and interrogator. The true nature of what the Nazis are up to is not explicit, only implied by passing comments in the discussions between Ila and those around her. Avoiding the melodramatic trap many well-meaning graphic novels set around the horrors of WWII fall into, the Immonens keep the story spare and focused to allow the ambiguity of survival itself to become the drama. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/17/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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