Monday, November 30, 2009

Anders Nilsen Trilogy, Part 1 of 3

Nilsen, Anders. Monologues for the Coming Plague. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2009.

Nilsen's collection of single page drawings is, at best, absurdist. There is no sense of plot structure to the first collection of three graphic novels containing what he calls "automatic art." Thought at times, there is some idea that gathers the images together. He does lump a series of images under a headings like "Semiotics" and "Into the Wilderness."

I'll be honest: I didn't get everything in the book. There were moments I laughed out loud, but for the most part I looked at each page for a few seconds, shrugged my shoulders and move on. I had this odd feeling that I was reading something interesting, but I can't really put into words why. With that said, Nilsen is interesting when one considers how the text and images come together to create meaning on the page. There were moments when the two crudely drawn figures would not change for pages (save the exact shape of the hastily drawn lines that blotted out one character's head), but the words would change. Oddly enough, the text would change the way the reader interpreted the image. Nothing had changed accept the words, but the entire page carried a different meaning.

All in all, if you want to read a collection of single page comics that lay on the fringe edges of the graphic novel, that Monologues of the Coming Plague is as good as anything else. If you want something by Nilsen with more of a story, than look to his incredibly good Dogs and Water.

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