Silence by Bruce Mutard

The Silence

a review by Nalini Haynes

The Silence introduces Choosy, a ‘suit’ by training and nature, working as an art gallery manager in Sydney. Dim (Dimitri) is her partner, an artist who is struggling to find purpose and meaning for continuing to paint. Choosy believes Dim’s problems are unfulfilled aspirations for fame and fortune, while Dim’s struggle is more existential.

They travel north up the coast to visit Fred, an aging and successful artist who has work to be exhibited by Choosy’s gallery. Choosy has heard of an inspired artist living near Fred, and is determined to find him in order to exhibit his work. Much of the story revolves around Choosy’s search for the elusive artist and her love of his work, whilst the dialogue focuses on the more philosophical arguments around the meaning and value of art.

Silences are a product of conflict in the relationship between Choosy and Dim, but the silence of the title seems to be the comparative peace of the Australian bush in an unspoiled setting. Choosy and Dim find this silence both attractive and frightening.

It is clear the author understands the art world and has grappled with the philosophical and existential issues discussed in this graphic novel. For this alone I think The Silence should be compulsory reading for all art students and faculty.

The illustrations are in black and white; mostly line drawings interspersed with black areas where appropriate. Each panel is drawn with great care, depicting both characters and background in detail. The sequence of panels is logical so the reader can become immersed in the story rather than focusing on finding a path through the maze. Pages are not overly filled, providing space around groups of panels or even individual panels to create pauses in the story. This is a story whose theme is meant to be pondered, and the artwork reflects the mood.

It is with trepidation that I begin to review comic books but I would have to say the combination of artwork and story in The Silence is very highly recommended.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.