lauantai 19. helmikuuta 2011

Jon J. Muth: M

First I have to say that I'm not an expert in comics or graphic novels of any kind. Far from it. My experiences with comics are mainly limited to Donald Duck, Tintin, Asterix etc. But I also enjoy reading Alison Bechdel's cartoons and I recently read Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis. And I was in the library one day, wandered over to the comics section and chose something completely different to try out.

M is a graphic novel by Jon J. Muth that is based on a film by Fritz Lang. Of course, neither of the names meant anything to me beforehand. I mainly chose the book, because the style of the drawings looked completely different from anything that I've read before and I wanted to try something new.

The basic storyline of the graphic novel is based on Lang's film from as early as 1931. In the introduction to the book, the film is described as "the originator of the serial killer movie and the police procedural, the forefather of film noir". I'm not familiar with the original film, but at least the graphic novel seems very "film-like", with the black-and-white images and realistic drawings.

The afterward at the end of the book explains how Muth drew the comic. He recruited friends and relatives, dressed them up into the appropriate clothing and then made them pose and act out the story in various surroundings. He took photographs of them and then used these photos to draw the panels of the graphic novel. Some of the photographs were blurry - and this meant that the copied drawings would also be blurry. Others were sharp and clear and this can also be seen in the pictures of the book: some panels are incredibly realistic and look more like actual photographs than drawings.

I wasn't very impressed with the actual plot of the graphic novel: a police thriller about catching a serial killer. But the boundaries between the "good" and "bad" guys were nicely blurred and the ending was quite unexpected and interesting. To me, the actual style of the drawings and the dark, blurry atmosphere of the city was the most interesting aspect. Each drawing was like a small piece of art and especially the detailed, realistic expressions on the characters' faces were carefully drawn. An interesting reading experience overall!

Jon J. Muth: M. A graphic novel based on the film by Fritz Lang. Abrams, 2008.

Links:
Graphic Novel Reporter: M
Wikipedia: Jon J. Muth
Buy M from The Book Depository

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