Wednesday, 25 November 2015

So I Read Russian Olive to Red King

A 250 word (or less) review of the Russian Olive to Red King graphic novel,
by Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen; Adhouse Books

Russian Olive to Red King is a bleak comic. It is a beautifully crafted, achingly sparse story of depression, despair, resolution, and loss. In the comic Olive, an archeologist, is leaving on a work trip to a remote northern location. Her lover Red is staying behind with her dog to struggle with his writers block and finally turn in an overdue article. Tragedy strikes and Olive's small plane crashes in north, forcing her to struggle to survive. Red, meanwhile, cut off from Olive and ignorant to whether she might still be alive, is left to keep the faith. It is, as I've said, a bleak comic. It is also achingly beautiful: whether depicting arctic wilds or huddling in a bedroom, Russian Olive to Red King captures a kind of majestic stillness. It's an aesthetic choice that resonates with enormity and isolation of the story. While the story of the comic is powerful, for me the artwork is its best selling feature and the reason to seek out this comic. It's spectacular. One thing you should be aware of, though, is that the final third of the comic is a lengthy prose section. I found this part of the book as bleak, artful, and powerful as the comic and the perfect way to end the book (and a great statement on the power of art as a mechanism for dealing with emotion). But, your mileage may vary, and reading a comic that ends with an essay may not be your speed.

Word count: 250

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