EXIT WOUNDS reviewed by Boldtype

Boldtype Review - Exit Wounds

Boldtype    |    Boldtype Staff    |    August 29, 2007

Despite Rutu Modan's modest style, Exit Wounds is an unmistakably cerebral work whose subtle union of graphic and textual language is leagues ahead of more well-known strips. This may come as little surprise to those already familiar with Modan's work — whether as a celebrated children's book illustrator, Israeli Mad magazine editor, or the founder of Actus Tragicus, a collective of cartoonists that has been holding down a brilliant alt-comics culture in Tel-Aviv since 1995.

The novel follows a young Israeli taxi driver, Koby Franco, in a search for his estranged father, who may or may not have been killed in a suicide bombing. Modan's vivid watercolor and innocent illustrations mitigate the darkness of her tale — engendering a universe built on an edifice of pitch-perfect visual irony. Of course, Koby's quest for the truth is totally convoluted — in particular by his grudge-steeled reluctance to look for his father at all, and by a hopeless surplus of violence so commonplace that Koby can scarcely distinguish his father's explosion from other horrific disasters. In this world, whether Koby's father is still alive is no longer the real question. To bother searching at all becomes the point.

It's clear from frame one of Modan's story that her graphic simplicity is of the best variety: that is, loaded with meaning. The book opens at 9am on a bustling Tel-Aviv morning. The foreground is a confused intersection with vibrantly inked figures moving haphazardly across a featureless gray tarmac. Behind this are two solid sheets of color: first, an intricate depot existing in an earthy wash of warm pink; then, in the distance, a cool layer of sea green, containing a geometrically complicated Modernist tower and the morning sky. Whether Modan is merely channeling a hazy metropolis waking up or something more — a tired world of layered realities and divided perspectives, governed by a precise schedule of mutability — it's a testament to what a graphic novel, at its finest, can achieve.
- Stephen Dougherty



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