A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: _Resistance Book 1_

Having just been less than kind to Jane Yolen's own graphic novel effort, I find her appraisal of Carla Jablonksi and Leland Purvis' Resistance right-on: "A forceful reminder of both the broad horrors and the small braveries of that period of history, things we should never forget."

Resistance is the story of how pre-adolescents Paul and Marie Tessier come to join their Vichey, France-based family and friends in subverting the efforts of the occupying German army. Paul uses his artistic talent to send messages to others in Paris; Marie uses her ability to memorize (toe-the-line literacy supporters rejoice. But, then again, such folks are probably least likely to accept a graphic novel as good reading material anyway, right?) to interpret crytpics. Their older sister uses her feminine wiles to distract soldiers and hide papers. The kids are able to join their Jewish friend Henri with his parents in Paris, but their success seem small in sight of growing threats.

The well-established novelist Jablonksi and the respected comics artist Purvis, rightly considered co-authors of the text, appear to work well together to integrate plot and symbolic elements. The use of Paul's art as multilayered metatexts (actual images within panels; Paul's drawings of those images -- as drawings -- overlapping the actual images, and the reader seeing the signs as multiple as they read) reveals the complex reader response relationships inherent in graphica that the best comics artists easily manipulate. As well, the severity of the situations of the characters makes caring for them quick and easy, allowing for a fast-paced, deep, but still economic story development.

Further, it is nice to see more sequential art narratives on the Holocaust examining "other" sides of the equation, not just "War-Mongering Germans vs. Hapless Jews." I recently read an article about movies like Inglorious Bastards and books that are revealing a new version of Jewish identity, especially Jewish male identity. As well, graphic novels like the Barefoot Gen series and A Family Secret and The Arrival inform readers about how the war affected different nations and hemispheres as well as more various populations than we often consider in our study of this bleak period of human history.

Resistance fits well with the texts mentioned above, and in terms of quality, would be near the top (but not quite so near The Book Thief). Apparently there are more volumes to come, as this text was published as Book 1. I hope Jablonski and Purvis can keep up thier mojo in future continuations of the story, and perhaps one day we'll be looking at a tome-sized version of Resistance like we do the collected Maus.

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