Friday, January 05, 2007

The Innocents

by Gipi
from The Best American Nonrequired Reading

I'm indifferent about this graphic story. It's not bad but it isn't particularly moving either, though I think it tries to be. My largest problem is I didn't connect at all with any of these characters. I didn't understand the little boy. Just how old is he anyway? Why does he look like he's twelve and act as if he's five? And what's up with the uncle? Does he even like his nephew? Are the insulting comments simple joking around or am I supposed to take him seriously? I thought the point of graphics was to illustrate and answer some of these questions but guess I was wrong. If the uncle is joking, he definitely isn't showing it in any of the graphic frames.

And what I am supposed to feel for Valerio the friend? Should I empathize with him? It certainly would have made the graphic story more interesting if I had. Yet, how can I, when the reason for his anger and fear is never clearly explained? Given that the uncle is telling this story to his nephew, it's understandable that he didn't explain the gory details, but couldn't he have given them to me, the reader, in a thought bubble or something? As far as I can tell, Valerio is just a scared boy who went to prison for attacking abusive police and came out a psychopathic man. That's a bad deal but I don't really care.

Nor did I care for the art. It was a tad too bleak and full of angles for me. Perhaps, it works to fit the dour story but it didn't work to appeal to my eye. I found myself speeding through the frames to get to the end, rather than studying them for hidden, revealing secrets. If "Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea" is the reason why I should read more comics, then "The Innocents" is the reason why I wouldn't.