Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Stuart Immonen
I’ll admit that when I picked up Moving Pictures I knew little about the books history. I thought it sounded wonderful – the story of a Ila Gardner, a museum sub-curator working in Paris during the Second World War. I didn’t realise that it had been published online, or just how different it would be to the mainstream work by the Immonens I was used to. None of that mattered once I started to read.
The art is stark and the lines so well-defined, the images such a contrast to what I’m used to in a graphic novel. Were the story not so strong and Ila not so strangely engaging I likely would have simply flipped through the pages staring at the art. But Ila’s story – the young Canadian woman who seems determined to be unlikeable just as she’s determined to save as much of the art as possible – is fascinating.
The story is told non-chronologically, as if we are seeing snapshots of Ila’s life and work during the war. It’s a layout that likely worked well when published online, and it continues to work in the collected format. It feels as if her life is a mystery, and pieces of it are being laid out before us. They connect with other pieces and come together in a story that is both powerful and engaging. There is a lonliness to Ila, but she is still portrayed with strength. The dialogue is crisp and at times sparse, but it mirrors the art of the book perfectly. The script engages, and the silences seem appropriate when they occur.
Everything about the art catches me. The starkness of the lines and the depth of shadow. Stuart’s amazing work in respresenting famous works of art in a way that contrasts the main style of the book but never conflicts it. The emptiness and the brilliant use of negative space, and the sense of movement in the city streets.
A beautiful book on many levels, it is one that has affected me just as strongly each time I read it.