Saturday, October 08, 2016

Ruins by Peter Kuper

You can't know the tone of a story from a simple description of the events.

For example: two artsy types, married long enough to get just a bit stale, head to a small city in Mexico, where one of them will be working on a major project during a sabbatical and the other will be tending to personal creative projects after a layoff. Political and personal tensions erupt over the next few months as they deal with living in a different culture.

Is that a satire of the artistic elite? A wacky romp about Those Colorful Foreigners? A searing portrait of a marriage falling apart? A heartwarming portrait of love rekindled in Jesus and each other? A political thriller with secret pasts erupting out on both sides? A noir drama from which no one escapes unscathed?

Or maybe the story of a butterfly.

Peter Kuper's 2015 graphic novel Ruins is at least one of those things. know, I'm not sure if should say anything more about the story. I should mention that Kuper tells Ruins in a more conventional graphic-novel style than he has in previous "silent" books, and that he does use that butterfly as a unifying metaphor and device. Maybe I should mention something about the art: Kuper has a lovely variety to his palette here -- from monotone sepia for historical flashbacks to bright, almost gem-like colors for the full Mexican day. It's a gorgeous-looking book, and it's a book for adults about adults -- about love and marriage and friends and betrayal and politics and cultural imperialism and regular imperialism and jobs and lives and how to live them. I think I've said enough.

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