Saturday, 18 October 2014

Roman Muradov: Picnic Ruined: Undeniable Talent, Unbelievable Pretention

Talent and Failure in one convenient package
A fantastic recommendation from the tall fellow at Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco. Picnic Ruined is my first experience with Roman Muradov's work (he of the Tolstoy Google Doodle from 24/09/2014) and, oh boy, was it a mixed bag. There is clear talent and mastery in the art, but the story it illustrates is so weak, it's painful at times.

Picnic Ruined tells the story of an artist who feels worthless and pathetic. His life is dedicated to art, but his failures are always at the forefront of his mind. Self-loathing seems to be the main motivator for the lead characters. We meet a genuinely annoying man whose sole problem appears to be self-created. He blames everyone and no one for his failure. It all feels terribly banal and full of platitudes. He is smug artist (or someone with artistic inclinations) who thinks he is better than everyone else. He talks constantly about how the world has failed him and how he has failed it. This character`s woes are that he has too much, knows too much and has too much ambition. And yet he suffers because all the doors are open, and he doesn't know which one to take. So desperate from knowing he can accomplish anything, yet he`s not decisive enough to pick. What a trite and dull story.

Fortunately for the reader, there are some redeeming qualities.

The art is superb.

This is a masterpiece in comic-making. Muradov's layout is freeflowing throughout the book. Thoughts are given abstract form. Memories, and the inability to remember somethig properly, are illustrated so well. State of mind becomes visually alive in this book. The use of black and white here is also wonderful. It combines many artistic methods and manipulates them on the same page. The art is expressive and magnificient. Yet as I read Picnic Ruined, one question kept coming to my mind. Is art enough to anchor a comic book? 

I will seek out Muradov's other book cautiously. Perhaps his other efforts at a story won't be as misguided as in this book. I'll come around to reading (In a Sense) Lost & Found in the future. At the very least, it will be pretty to look at.

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