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Saturday, July 08, 2006

IncantoIncanto -- Writer/artist Frank Santoro also drew Cold Heat #1 (both are from Picturebox Inc.), and his art on that title seemed to me deliberately rough and unfinished, but with an obvious skill and good colour sense. Incanto is in many ways a very different book, more experimental, and I think more likely to satisfy artcomix followers.

Despite having been issued from a professional (if new and mostly untested) publisher, Incanto looks and feels like a self-published mini-comic. The moments Santoro depicts are conveyed with a minimum of visual information -- sometimes what we're seeing is spelled out for us in scrawled text, such as "sky," or "reaching for lover not there," but intriguingly, usually, you'll be able to tell what it is you're looking at anyway. The technique is an arresting variation on comics being composed of words and pictures, and an effective counter-argument to the truism that the words on the page should never duplicate what the reader can see in the images.

The use of colour -- a bright orange and a shade of blue I would call "dark turquoise" (although art school grads probably have a better name for it) arrests the eye, and the four colours in evidence -- white, black, orange and that shade of blue -- create whole worlds of emotion and space on the page. One masterful sequence has two panels on the left page featuring shock and revulsion highlighted by the methodical removal of colour, only to be powerfully echoed and enforced by a wall of nothing but orange on the facing, right-side page.

By now you have a sense of whether Incanto is something you'd like or not, which is what I see as my primary job here. I can't say it's going to be for everyone -- it's experimental, non-traditional comics in the extreme -- but at the same time, it is wildly intriguing, like a beautiful dream, and there are moments and images inside that indicate Santoro is a powerful new voice in comics, and that Picturebox is, whatever Diamond thinks about them, a new comics publisher the artform needs, even if the industry seems destined to resist it at every turn.



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