“This silence speaks volumes” is what Bruce Mutard wrote in my copy of his graphic novel The Silence when he signed it for me. Man, he was right – it most certainly does !
I was looking froward to picking up new (both actually new and those which were new to me) books from Bruce when he was in Perth for Oz Comic-Con last March, as I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to him at 2012’s Perth Supanova, where I bought a couple of his books: The Sacrifice and The Bunker. I will discuss them in detail in future posts, but it suffices to say they were books that I loved and had me eager to read more of Bruce’s work !
The Silence did not disappoint, and made me an even bigger fan of this philosophical artist’s storytelling. The Silence is a clever rumination on Art, taking into account themes such as whether there is a purpose to art, if art is a worthy pursuit in and of itself, and how art is to be valued. The book also examines the intersection (and contradictions) between art and commerce. As you would expect of a graphic novelist, Bruce answers these questions positively, affirming art is not dead and does have a relevance beyond its commercial value. It does so both in the story itself and in the choices made in presenting the story.
Hmmm, before I continue telling you what I reckon The Silence was about I had better let you know what story The Silence was actually telling ! Artist Dimitri is wrestling with his creative demons when his partner Choosy McBride (an art dealer) discovers a breath-taking painting. Choosy and Dimitri set out to find the artist behind the painting and find themselves on a journey of discovery. OK, now I have been informative, it’s back to the less interesting part of the post !
The way Bruce Mutard shows that art is indeed valuable is done in a very clever way, which would be spoilery to reveal, and one which emphatically states that not only is art valuable in a way not connected to commerce, but that art can ONLY have value when viewed without mercenary eyes. As mentioned above, Bruce does not just tell us that art is valuable, he also shows it. He does so with a series of landscapes to show a change of scene. These pieces are shown on a separate change and “framed” against a black background. The final page is also presented artistically, as a triptych showing the reaction of Dim to the story’s final revelation.
Bruce Mutard’s style is reminiscent of Jason Lutes and Jaime Hernandez, whom Bruce freely admits is an influence. The story reminds me of Jaime (and his brother Gilbert) in terms of the pacing as well, with it unfolding in a gentle way as characters themselves come to discover the drama of the plot, rather than it being forced upon them. As always, the characters are nuanced, and the conversations between Dimitri and Choosy especially being both realistic and interesting.
In short, I could not recommend The Silence more highly. If you are a fan of art (sequential or otherwise) you will be enthralled by it. The volume indeed speaks volumes.
The Silence, as with all of Bruce Mutard’s graphic novels can be purchased through his website, here: