A House Without Windows

Marc Ellison and Didier Kassaï, trans. from the French by Nanette McGuinness. Life Drawn, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-64337-542-7
Photographer Ellison and cartoonist Kassai’s innovative account of the lives of impoverished children in the Central African Republic employs photography, sequential art, and documentary filmmaking to extraordinarily moving effect. The pair document the lives of children working in diamond mines, doctors who administer hundreds of malaria tests per day, and young girls whose friendship defies ethnic enmity. Photographs of their subjects are juxtaposed with, and seamlessly move into, comics narratives that relay and contextualize their reports. “I told him I stole only because I was hungry,” captions a photo of a boy aiming a slingshot at the camera, which morphs into a comic showing the boy running from a shopkeeper with his raised fist holding a belt. Kassai’s visuals are marvelously intimate—with only a few artfully deployed brushstrokes, he conveys everything from the slumped weariness of a homeless child to the clenched consternation of a Doctors Without Borders field coordinator. The book also includes a QR code link to a video, and the mixing of mediums succeeds at immersion, rather than coming off as gimmicky. Ellison and Kassai don’t look away from the brutality or beauty found in Central African life in this remarkable collaboration. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/31/2020
Release date: 03/23/2021
Genre: Comics
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