Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rutu Modan's Jamilti

Rutu Modan is Israel's new star in the international comics firmament thanks to her great, instant classic, graphic novel Exit Wounds. She's part of Actus, a group of comics creators who began self-publishing as Actus Tragicus in 1995. To find my first contact with these artists (the aforementioned Rutu Modan, but also Etgar Keret - her scripter, if that's a word -, Yirmi Pinkus, Batia Kolton, Mira Friedmann, Itzik Rennert) I have to go back to 1996 when I bought four silvery covered comic books: How to Make a Good Script Great by Rutu Modan and Etgar Keret; Fotofix by Yirmi Pinkus; Eck Ova Souljah by Batia Kolton; Zipped by Mira Friedmann (no Itzik at the time). What's interesting re. Rutu Modan is to see her completely different drawing style back then. Not only that, but Batia Kolton (whose drawing style is now a better version of Rutu's - cf. Actus' last book How to Love) heavily retouched photos in a Bazooka mood back then. It's also interesting to see, in retrospect, how Yirmi Pinkus was the first to adopt an European looking, clear line approach.

The group's site is at (and I thank Ofer Berenstein for his timely post at the comics scholars list):

Another interesting looking small press publisher from Israel is Dimona:

You can read "Jamilti" by Rutu Modan for free, here:

Rutu Modan's drawing style is indebted to Hergé (and George McManus and Alain Saint-Ogan) inspired clear line, but it also looks like traced photos (there's exactly where Batia Kolton improves this style's look: hers don't). Her color sense is flawless. The flat color surfaces are great to avoid plastic computer coloring (a big thanks to Jeffrey Chapman for coining the expression) while still doing the job on a machine. Rutu Modan also does lighter contour lines in the background to achieve a sense of aerial perspective.
Her stories capture that bit of everyday strangeness we perceive in our disfunctional families', suicide bombers', always changing under our feet, global world.

Actus Tragicus (left to right: Yirmi Pinkus, Mira Friedmann, Rutu Modan, Batia Kolton, Itzik Rennert - 2000).

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