Berlin (Berlin #1-3)(books review) Jason Lutes

291018: reviews of previous volumes:


vol. 1, first review: the weimar republic in the roaring 20s- first volume in the best graphic series i have read.


i have just reread this, rare to do so with graphics, but worth it. my knowledge of history of that time is primarily through narrative works like this, other books, films of the times and since, not nonfiction, not studying, finding a sense of the times through historical fiction- movies, books, now graphics- that helps make something like sense of senseless horror in the rise of hitler, the horror of antisemitism then, the horror of its use as a political force, in the insidious extremism of fascism, in the hope and naïveté of the common people...


i believe that the best artistic projects are those that find expression in exactly the right medium. i am told the true media comparison or understanding is not between written books versus graphic books, but between movies versus graphics, and that certainly seems to be the case here. lutes uses cinematic grammar, telling the story in images that allow close-ups and panoramas, silence and implied movement, follows visual edits years apart, uses multiple identifiable characters, swinging from global to personal in a few cuts. and then dialogue here more abstract than films, not concerned with moving the plot along, conversations on everything, on art, on perspective, and then the silent musing of all these random characters. this is the best work in simple, correct, easily read images, only in total emotional effect/affect recalling german expressionist movies of this time...


this is only the first of three volumes. ends on a cliffhanger that i easily solve because i have book 2- but then i know he has not published 3 yet...


vol. 2, first review: best graphic work ever?


why do i say this, when do i say this, yes perhaps it is the political nature and society of Weimar Berlin, the interwoven narratives, complexity of the story, way it moves scene to scene through entire culture, from art school to cabarets, from how varied pov are, working class radicals and dupes, unheeding bourgeoisie, detestable wealthy. major characters still journalist of conscience, young woman art student, lover between him and her, workers and soldiers and survivors, including here a black jazz quartet from America...


and then again, as usual i look at the art, despite being primarily literary type. i like the representational artwork, the realism, the drama, the symbolic, and so it is the story told in images rather than stopping at this or that moment. more political, more thoughtful, there are some pages of conversation about politics- and then there are those who try to live in the moment, ignoring storm clouds, and nostalgia for the freedom and sincerity of beliefs re. communism, art, writing, in that era...


and now i wait for Berlin 3...


volume 3, first review, 30.10.18: best graphic work read/seen...


when i first met my friend comics illustrator riley rossmo i had read maybe ten graphics, adult graphics, serious graphics, and this was years after childhood for when my brother and i could read written books, our mother teacher and librarian would not let us read comics. we are young, trying to be, proud to be, reading like adults so this is no hardship. on the other this is the birth of artistic snobbery that prevents me from seeing no more than comics as disposable childhood entertainment. i have read over 500 graphics now, novels, collections, reproductions, theory, critiques, and really like the medium now. i might have bought vol. 1 before we met, but discovered or rediscovered my love of visual art, he went to art college, i wanted to but took art at u, so we talked much art history- that i had in fact hated at u. i have read much art and art theory and much of my ‘graphics’ shelf are actually visual art books. so i look at art, i talk about art, i give riley some ‘intellectual’ views on art, but it is this work that convinces me of the possibilities of graphics...

riley knew i loved this work, had the previous work, was of course impatient for 3. so he bought me this as trilogy for my birthday, thanks riley. i wanted to read it all in one go, i had to find somewhere to read it, support it (it is a big, heavy hardcover), so i eventually found a soft chair with high wide armrests, got some drinks, some food, some time, some solitude, and sat and read it all in i don’t know, three or four or five hours. this a great way to read it. i loved it. my previous reviews are accurate...


i had read Vols. 1 and 2, i see this has taken lutes 23 years, my friends might see little innovation or technical advances in the art, but i see it as excellent images telling the story. there seems to be, in art criticism of all sorts, forms, mediums, a sort of ‘literary prejudice:’: that is if the it cannot be appreciated in poetic terms, in literary terms, in politics or philosophy in words- it is not worthy of much critical respect. for me, this is too often the case in graphics. if the story can be told in words, tell it in words. it is how it is told in images that makes this work supremely visual, easy to follow, easy to look at, easy to understand, like a mental movie, and affecting in ways that are mature and reflective and heartbreaking: there is a passage of four pages that render the sadness and tragedy and reality of death that is best of any medium. in four pages. so there is great panorama and detailed intimacy, there are thoughts, discussions, encounters, politics, religion, philosophy, of the weimar era in subtle and dramatic images foreshadowing future war, with a few images of swastika, of hitler, more of brownshirts and reds, most of the people of that time. beautiful and wonderful and aching sad of this resonant past...

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

140718: this is read 3 times. this is the book that made his name. it has been translated but i do not know how: a lot of the pleasure is in the voice, the unique version of Nigerian english used, per

if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o