Monika Vol. 1 Masked Ball
Written by: Thilde Barbonie
Illustrated by: Guillem March
Publisher: Titan Comics © 2016
In all honesty this is my first time in reading a French comic, though I have always heard good thing about them. However, the moment my eyes came across this and I noticed the art of Guillem March from Gotham City Sirens fame, I knew right there and then I had to check this out.
Monika is a relatively recent title from last August. This graphic novel interesting tale about a visual artist who is not sure about her own past and life it would seem. She refers to her living as constantly drowning but in what? It is quite possibly the drowning of not knowing as she thinks about her missing sister, Erika. She cannot get over the fact that her sister is gone. And by gone I mean she has no idea, dead, alive or what. In regards to her art she is not sure of either, as it is not finished and perfected yet. Her apartment is littered with drawings and paintings everywhere.
The story takes place in modern France which also deals with the politics and issues of that nation. It is OK if you are not aware of French politics, the issues and ideas brought up are nothing new to anyone today and can mostly be applied to other nations. This is the one beat I identify with, as the graphic novel is something of a political thriller. The issues and topics again are pretty straight-forward but do not come off as preachy or extremely partisan, if anything they are just background.
Barbonie’s writing is great as again there are blends of a political thriller, seduction with a Eyes Wide Shut vibe with the balls and a sci-fi approach alluding almost to Ex Machina. The real focus is on March, who let’s face it, can drawn exquisitely, beautiful women. Yes, you see women in these sexy, stylized, run-way outfits at the ball and you see Monika nude and her nude art multiple times. Nonetheless, March does it so tastefully and elegantly unlike the a-typical comic book depiction of women in all kinds of strange contortions and positions of their bodies. Monika’s nudity comes off as very natural. March helps adding a softness with all the coloring, making certain panels and scenes very atmospheric, lending itself to a dream like quality. Simulatenously, March knows how to drape the scenes in dark anonymity. At times the design of this setting along with what is hinted at, give the book an almost cyber-punk appeal as well.
Overall, a great and stunning book, over 60 pages long with no breaks and chapters like most graphic novels are usually constructed. This one detail only makes you want to read it more, never putting it down until you’re finish. All of this and under $20, you cannot beat a deal like that here.
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