Friday, March 13, 2009
Review - The Murder of the Terminal Patient
I read Rutu Modan's The Murder of the Terminal Patient yesterday on the NY Times website during my lunch hour. Normally I don't care for comics on the computer screen, but I don't buy newspapers, and these NY Times Funny Pages comics are too good to pass up. In just a couple years, Modan has become a cartooning force, and her presence in the Funny Pages alongside such luminaries as Seth, Jaime Hernandez, and Dan Clowes, is strong evidence to her talent. As with her breakout graphic novel, Exit Wounds, the story is constructed around a central mystery, and unfolds quickly until its big and satisfying reveal in the final episode. At seventeen pages, the story is a little light on character development, but there's certainly enough to hold a reader's interest. But what makes Modan worthy of such exclusive company is her seemingly effortless synthesis of Hernandez and Herge, a clean line approach which incorporates all the familiar aspects of cartooning and combines them with an illustrator's sense of composition and design. Modan also relies on a soft, textured color pallete which straddles the line between fantasy and reality. Anyway, if you've got 15 minutes to spare, you could do a lot worse than spend it reading this short story. My only complaint is a technical one - why can't the NY Times format these stories like every single other webcomic so you don't have to navigate back and forth to the table of contents every time you want to advance pages? It's a trivial gripe, but it seems like common sense to me, yet has somehow eluded the greatest newspaper editors of the world.