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Russian Olive To Red King Hardcover – July 7, 2015
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"A haunting, ethereal journey through a dark landscape simmering with unresolved emotions, Russian Olive to Red King forces us to re-examine the boundaries of our own relationships and how we instinctively try to hold on to our individuality, even in the face of an unrelenting desire to lose ourselves in our partners.
Evocative and enthralling, this is easily one of the best, most accomplished books I've read this or any year." - Broken Frontier
About the Author
Kathryn and Stuart Immonen have been making comics together for more than twenty years. Kathryn grew up with Astérix and Archie, Stuart with Spider-man and Donald Duck; they came together over Tintin, Daredevil and Mister X. Stuart has worked for virtually every comics publisher (extant and extinct) and is best known for such diverse work as Nextwave, Superman: Secret Identity, and Ultimate Spider-man. Kathryn has written stories for both DC and Marvel, including the sleeper hit miniseries Patsy Walker: Hellcat.
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I wish, though, that I had flipped through to see how the remainder of the book is formatted before buying a copy. The last third of the book--sparse lines of text on mostly blank pages--are just not what I buy a graphic novel to see (or see poorly, as the short line lengths and design choice aren't the easiest thing to read). This section apparently worked much better for other readers, who have found it profound. I'm afraid I found it tedious and not as insightful or deep as I was meant to find it. Maybe it wouldn't have disappointed me if I hadn't been expecting, from the length of the physical book, for the sequential part of the story to go on for many more pages, if I hadn't expected the prose to be just an interlude. But I ended the book feeling disappointed and, worst of all, bored.
It didn't work for me, but it might for you.
It’s billed as a romance, but as the artists post, that’s misleading. Olive is leaving on a work trip, and Red, left behind, has his own work to do. However, on a research trip in a small plan into the Russian wilderness, there’s an accident.
One can’t help but read into the edges, as someone nags Red for an overdue project, the life of the artist. Gorgeous setting shots punctuate each chapter, getting more and more cold and remote as events continue. It’s beautifully illustrated, which makes the harsh story all the more powerful, particularly with the contrast with the warm, often orange coloring. It’s a disturbing book, one that, like all their books together, requires significant involvement from the reader.
Due to the pacing of the story, there’s an overall air of inevitability about many of the events. That’s what’s so horrific — knowing that something terrible is going to happen and being unable to do anything but try to figure out a way to cope with it. Visually, Olive is dropping bits and pieces of her life behind her as she wanders the wilderness.
The second half (well, last third) of the book is Red’s essay about death and absence, accompanied by a series of images that reveal themselves as a metaphor at the end. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)