Review: ‘Moving Pictures’
By Kathryn & Stuart Immonen
Top Shelf, 136 pages, $14.95
Kathryn Immonen has made her name as a writer for Marvel, telling quirky stories in unconventional ways. Her husband, Stuart, has proven a chameleon of an artist and storyteller, going from high-gloss super-heroes in the [[[New Avengers]]] to a more impressionistic and simplified style in Moving Pictures.
The story is set in World War II, after Paris has fallen to the Nazis. As the French try and catalogue their works of art then hide them from the enemy’s grasp, the occupying Germans also want the works catalogued so they can divvy up the spoils of war. Ila Gardner has given her passport to a friend, helping her escape, and comes under interrogation by Rolf Hauptman, a German officer, and someone she is also involved with.
Kathryn weaves a story told in parallel time periods as we learn about Ila and Rolf while at the same time, Rolf questions Ila. Slowly, the truth between them is revealed and layers of artifice are stripped away from both, leaving raw emotions exposed.
We see how the French value their great works and one another. The dialogue is spare and you learn as much from body language and gesture as you do from the words. Here, Stuart does a masterful job with the black and white form and simplified drawings. He sets the characters against the artwork in question, letting the paintings loom over the people, threatening to crush them with their historic significance.
A visual trick with papers allows the couple to shift the story from time period to time period and you’re never lost. In fact, your attention does not wander as you get caught up in the tension between Rolf and Ila, wishing to learn more about both.
While set against true events from the war, this is really a slice of life that craves both a beginning and ending. You enjoy what there is but their work is crafted well enough to leave you desiring more.