photo & text by nacrowe
there is something about the SUBTLE interplay between TEXT and ILLUSTRATIONS in a WELL-CRAFTED graphic novel. especially when both are done with a sparing MINIMALISM that allows for much PROJECTION and INTERPRETATION on the part of the reader, much like when deciphering cues when watching an early silent film.
such is the case with ITALIAN cartoonist MANUELE FIOR's highly EXPRESSIONISTIC revisiting of WESTERN MYTHOLOGY in RED ULTRAMARINE (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2006) which combines both the ANCIENT GREEK DAEDALUS/ICARUS narrative with that of the GERMAN FAUST myth. at the heart of this intertwining HYBRID NARRATIVE are the DIRE consequences associated with OBSESSION. this search for PERFECTION may be the result of a WELL-INTENTIONED objective in order to save or assist a loved one, but it seems that challenging one's fate (and the gods' wrath) is another thing altogether.
FIOR effectively showcases with an adroit IMPRESSIONISTIC touch the deep well of AFFECTATION and EMOTION at heart with multiple character's pursuits. this is done with a sparing use of text, letting the ARTWORK push the NARRATIVE. the space in these PANELS gives voice to the INTERNAL DIALOGUE in all of us as we go about our daily pursuits and pedestrian desires. the UNADORNED IMAGERY is not EMPTY, but rather rich in anticipation for meaning. this is a PSYCHIC, MENTAL and EMOTIONAL space we all live within throughout our existence. at the close of RED ULTRAMARINE there is no victory, solace or knowledge gained. we are just mired in our own INTERNAL DIALOGUE and personal NARRATIVES that have no bearing on REALITY.
i believe FIOR illustrates in this graphic novel the extent to which FAUST and the MINOTAUR are aspects of ourselves. our OBSESSIONS and SELF-DELUSIONS are not real but projections of ourselves upon an UNCARING, seemingly NEUTRAL physical world. life is less about dealing with actual REALITY, but that which we create ourselves. RED ULTRAMARINE is a THOUGHTFUL graphic novel well worth investigating.