MOVING PICTURES, BB WOLF
Written and Drawn by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen
Written by JD Arnold and Drawn by Rich Koslowski
Published by Top Shelf
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Two from the folks at Top Shelf…
MOVING PICTURES is set in German occupied Paris during the second world war, and focuses on a young Canadian art curator named Ila who is tasked with cataloguing her museum’s work and prioritizing it for hiding it from the invading army. It isn’t a glamorous job, and it isn’t a fun one- it isn’t even her country. But it is something that she feels strongly about, and thus sticks around to ultimately find herself working under the German yoke. MOVING PICTURES is, in some ways, a story about giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but in this case, the enemy is herself. Ila is a distant woman, dragged down by demons she cannot put a name to or understand, and it is perhaps that only the art keeps her from losing complete touch with her own humanity. But as the story moves on, she receives a sad lesson when she actually does try and do something to demonstrate that she has not lost all feeling. Is Ila’s story a tragedy? The Immonens allow you to make that choice for yourself. I can say, though, that it is a thing of beauty, from both the art and character perspectives.
I wasn’t as sold on BB WOLF AND THE THREE LPS, a “retelling” of the classic fairytale through a new lens. In this version, JD Arnold has remade the wolves as Southern blacks during the 1920s and the pigs into white landowners full of racist venom. Thus we begin with BB, a farmer by day and blues musician by night, as he falls victim to nasty maneuvering by the pigs and faces the loss of his home. And once that happens? He’s on the warpath, huffing and puffing and aiming to blow the pigs’ “houses” down. The book looks beautiful- Koslowski draws the hell out of it, and the storytelling is exquisite. But the metaphoric mix of the fairytale and real-life situations faced by African-Americans during this era of American history never took hold of me. Aside from the physical damage that BB can do to a pig with his wolf strength and claws, there’s nothing particularly meaningful about these animal representations (unlike, say, what Spiegelman does in MAUS). Arnold could have told his story straight-up and it would have been just as effectively rendered to the audience.