Review of The Art of Flying (2009)

Sequential art with text

Kim (artist), Antonio Altarriba (writer).

Read in 2020.

A fictionalized biography of the writer’s father, growing up in rural Spain, living through the civil war as a military driver, WW2 in France as a refugee, and Franco’s dictatorship as an industrialist, before wrestling with his conscience and depression in his twilight years at an old folks’ home in democratic Spain, up to 2001.

I had to bury my dignity and my ideals... That was the only way to begin a new life... Like many other Spaniards, I learned to live in my own corpse...

As the quoted ellipses above indicate, the writing style is unpolished and quite wordy, even for a typical adult graphic novel. The narrative structure—loosely linear—is simple, decorated only by the opening prolepsis and closing reprise of some major characters. The visual framing is simple too. This simplicity shows careful realism and is a strength of the work, complemented by a few symbolist sequences and by the art: Clear greyscale felt-tip work with just a little cartoonish stylization. I read it voraciously, though ultimately, its emotional power didn’t quite live up to the subject matter.

References here: The Illegalists (2016).

sequential art text fiction