Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Reader's Diary #1374- Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: Red A Haida Manga

Since becoming aware of Haida art, and purely from an aesthetics point of view, I've loved it. Of course, not being of the culture, I lack the insider understanding and full appreciation of the iconography, and so I was both excited and nervous to read Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas's Red: A Haida Manga. The art, I was sure, would be beautiful, but would I comprehend the story?

I am happy to report that, yes, it was an all around pleasurable experience and the story, of the folly of vengeance, was mostly straightforward. Perhaps it helped that a summary on the dustjacket summarized the traditional Haida Gwaii story, perhaps it helped that Yahgulanaas borrowed some narrative techniques from Japanese manga, of which I am more acclimatized. Did I pick up all of the Haida symbolism, I'm guessing not, but I really enjoyed what the art brought to the medium. The thick black, curvy lines making up the panel borders was mesmerizing and help blend it all together. In some scenes characters held on the borders, in some the borders transitioned into pieces of the scene inside, and gutters, the spaces between panels and traditional to most Western comics, were all but non-existent. The result was a mystic and yet natural feel to the whole piece.

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