Friday, November 8, 2013

3" by Marc-Antoine Mathieu

Which is enough time for a particle of light to travel 900,000 kilometres.

And as you follow it on its journey - through scenes of violence and seeming innocence, as far as deep space and back - look into the blind spots and corners.There are clues there: connections between the characters, motives, intrigues, crimes and plots.
Julius Corentin Acquefacques: La 2,333e Dimension

Here it is, one of the comics of the year by comic genius Marc-Antoine Mathieu. Mathieu's comics are unique because of their  a. very Kafkaesque nature b. how meta they can be and to the homages to out European comics and c. he plays heavily with the structure of the medium and the structure of the physical format in which a comic is published on; from using the empty space from the middle of the page to an album-two way play to 3D use to where the action of turning page can drastically change a panel because of the folding that occurs when turning. He puts the meta crazy Milligans, Moores, Morrisons and McCarthys to shame and doesn't do it all for show; the way he tells a story demands a unique structure.  A lot of his comics have tons of acclaim worldwide and is well-known for comic series: Julius Corentin Acquefacques(amazing series). 3" is no different from his previous works. Though not a highly experimental as some his previous works, it's still an interesting workout on how time flows in a comic.

 As you can tell from the bold quote that 3" is a detective mystery and it's up to the reader to solve it. First let me ask you some questions. When was the last time you went from a passive reader to an active reader? Recently I mean. Now I don't mean active like seeing references or the writer allowing the reader to fill-in the holes, I mean active as in getting your ass up and putting a comic to the mirror to see what a paper is saying in a panel so you can further understand a story? Where you're flipping a comic upside down or right-side to see what's going on? Where a comic's placement is important to understanding a story and it's up to the reader to find out that placement? This is what 3" demands a reader to do. This isn't a comic you half-ass read through, no,  3" demands your full attention and makes you work to understand the story. Not only do you have to flip, mirror and turn but 3" is also a multimedia story. What I mean by that is, there's the hardcover and then there's a website in which you use to further investigate the story, panel by panel. You also get to see a flash video of the entire story happening in three seconds.

3" uses a six panel, three tier structure throughout the story. Mathieu never deviates from this structure, never allowing one panel to be bigger than the other. This structure helps Mathieu to masterfully pace and control the story, allowing him to set his pieces, environments, and characters.  It allows him the space to tell a story that happens in three seconds in story time and have it have a elegant flow to it. It allows us readers to fully examine what is going on in each panel and to take it all in. I never once left taken out of the story, everything flowed so well. And since we're seeing the story from light particle's perspective, this allows Mathieu to give us a mystery story from all possible angles. I mean we're moving in and out of rooms, people, even in and out of Earth. Mathieu is giving us a sorta kaleidoscope view of the mystery, where we have to pick up the clues and put them together.'s also no noise, everything is silent and there's a perception of motion. That perception of motion is due to how Mathieu as has drawn and set up his characters. You sense that they're about to break out of their spell but you know they won't. It's a great trick that Mathieu plays with and is felt throughout the comic.

This comic is also helped by Mathieu's mastery of black and white, composition and eye for contrasting; that and he's one hell of an artist. There were times where the art looked a bit blurry, I don't know if that's a publishing problem or if that's to do with we're seeing things from a light particle's "eye" and it's traveling at an extraordinary speed and things get blurry. Other than some panels looking blurry, his art is amazing to stare at.

3" is a comic that changes the way you look at comics; how they're structure and how they can tell a story and what time means within a story. Comic are in a unique place where time is so mailable and ever-changing and where structurally, we can do anything with a story. Even in the most formalist structure, there's even freedom for us to experiment. This is why I love comics so much and reading 3" brings that love out and makes me hopefully for the future of comics.

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