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Graphic Novel Review: Moving Pictures by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen

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This moving and atmospheric graphic novel started life as a web comic, and it constitutes somewhat of a shift away from the big-name superhero fare for which its creators are better known. Collected here in one elegant volume, Moving Pictures is now available to be enjoyed in all its complete, multi-faceted glory.

In brief, Moving Pictures tells the story of Ila Gardner, a museum sub-curator, as she attempts to protect important works of art from the unwelcome attentions of the Nazis in wartime Paris, an endeavour complicated by her affair with Nazi officer, Rolf Hauptmann. The striking black and white artwork is suitably stark and moody and matched for impact by the brisk, loaded dialogue, lending the characters a life-like depth and immediacy.

Rarely do comics achieve the dramatic maturity displayed here. The story unfolds economically, yet with stylistic flare, resonating with the concerns of the era in which it is set and outlining, in virtuoso displays of tonal contrast and lighting, the pathos of the characters and the circumstances in which they come together and are, finally, torn apart. The title, a play on words that refers to the activity in which Ila is engaged, also hints at the depth and scope of the piece: Moving Pictures has all the drama, class and emotional punch of a classic noir thriller-romance.

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