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16 April 2008

Jason Viola's RABBIT SHADOWS

Rabbit Shadows by Jason Viola.
44 pages. 4.75 x 4.2 inches. Black and white interiors.
Cardstock cover with minimally colored sticker logo.

I really like the look and feel of this little mini. Viola understands how to make minicomics and how to draw a story that will look good in a pocket sized book. The story is executed at the pace of one panel per page and Viola demonstrates a lot of nice drawing and detail on each page. The one panel per page format keeps the story moving pretty quickly. The book is also a silent comic. I seem to be seeing a lot more of that lately. Is it a trend or just coincidence? I think silent comics work better in a format with a minimal panel count like this book. The turn of the page takes care of the traditional time and pace narrative clues that silent comics are missing.
Viola's drawing is very appealing. He creates a very warm vibe with his lush pen work and crosshatched textures. The art combined with the bunny characters gives it the feel of a children's picture book. The character design is minimal yet expressive. In the story, a slacker bunny realizes his shadow is tangible and that he can manipulate it into statuesque poses. He takes his shadow statues to an art competition and wins. What follows is a brief study in the phases of an artist's rise to fame and inevitable fall from favor. It is a cute story and is presented in a charming way but it feels more like an exercise than a personal story. Not that I am against using the minicomic form as an artistic exercise. No, by all means, I encourage the exploration of this type (and every other type) of storytelling. My point is that I get the feeling that Viola is capable of much more. This book is a clever idea well executed and that is at least worth the cover price. I look forward to seeing what else Viola has in the works.

Jason also has a new webcomic. You can read it here.


Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

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