February 2, 2011

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Charlie Chaplin A Not Quite Silent Mini Comic

Written by Hanni Brosh
Illustrated by Hanni Brosh
Self-Published

One of the neat things about going to SPX is that there's usually a table or two for young cartoonists, which is always fun to peruse. Sometimes the art needs a little work, sometimes the story isn't the best, but whenever I stop by, I'm almost always greeted by at least one or two books that stand out.

Charlie Chaplin was one of those comics. I of course have a bias towards the subject material, but that wouldn't matter if the comic was not as well presented as this one is. Brosh's illustrations clearly show the action of the story, giving just enough information to the reader to follow along with the biography without bogging the whole thing down with too much information.

Brosh also makes another good decision by only picking one point in Chaplin's life, the time period roughly corresponding to the time of his writing The Great Dictator. It's a cruel moment for Chaplin, as he does what he thinks is right and yet is scorned (and banned) for it. I liked the way Brosh showed the emotion of this moment and also used characters instead of narrative boxes to let us know what was happening. This is a great example of showing instead of telling at work.

Artistically Brosh is pretty straightforward. There's nothing innovative going on here, just solid cartooning depicting historical figures in a way that makes them easily recognizable. Some of the line work plays with shadow a bit, but overall, the emphasis is on the story itself, not the art. That's not really a problem here, however, because in a biographical comic the emphasis should be on making the comic easy to read rather than playing tricks with narration.

I enjoyed this one a lot, and wouldn't mind seeing more from Brosh in the future. The mini itself is online here, and Ms. Brosh keeps a blog at this location, though it doesn't appear to be updated often. If you see a comic by her at a show near you, pick it up and see what you think!