September 8, 2018

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Graphic Nonfiction/SPX Spotlight 2018: Carta Monir's Lara Croft Was My Family

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Welcome to another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, where we look at a true story told in the medium of comics. Today's entry is on the Ignatz-nominated "Lara Croft Was My Family," published on Medium via the Patreon of Zeal, a project dedicated to discussing games and comics via creators who may not get as much mainstream attention.

Carta's story focuses on how they'd gather around the computer and watch their father play Lara Croft:

You can see from the figure work how serious Carta's father takes the game, how nervous it made the kids, and how his wife looks on rather stoically. Its a great way to understand the dynamics of the family in one image. There's only spot coloring, too, and it's not designed to mach the lines. (What's funny about this is I've never really gotten the idea of You Tube game watchers and here is Carta and family doing just that, analog style!)

Carta also shows how sounds from the game became a part of daily life for them:


Again, we see the father's concentration (look at the line above his glasses) and the same purple coloring, which draws the eyes but doesn't mirror any of Carta's lines. As the story proceeds, we learn that Carta's mother is sick, which makes this panel hit like a gut shot:

Look at how the purple this time looms like the cloud over the head of the mother, who will soon waste away before everyone else's eyes. It's a great use of the abstract coloring to add to the mood of the comic when you go back to re-read it.

I want to share one more panel, because this one deals both with Carta's transition and the illness. Look at how the purple now gives weight to Carta's word balloons:

Nothing about Lara Croft Was My Family is overly technical. It's all square panels, there's not a lot of action, and the designs of the people in the frames are just enough to tell who is who. Yet it's extremely powerful, because Carta picks just the right image for each scene and uses the supplemental color to provide additional power. It's a great comic, and a worthy contender for an Ignatz Award. You can read the whole thing here, and I highly encourage you to do so.