A review of
Red Colored Elegy
by Seiichi Hayashi
An animator is trudging forward, doggedly trying to avoid his companion, who’s attempting to convince him to ditch his animation job. “That production company pays peanuts!” says the companion, who has the white gloves and rubbery posture of a Disney character, but no head—his blood sloshes about in the gaping ring of his turtleneck collar. On the next page, the animator commits bloody murder, reducing his hectoring partner to a lone deflated glove, snagged on a barbed-wire fence.
That’s more or less how it goes in Red Colored Elegy, a graphic novel by Seiichi Hayashi, originally published in Japan in the early ’70s and now receiving its first English translation. The emotional thrust of the scene is clear, but it’s expressed through strange, externalized details. Hayashi was trying to import the disjunctive innovations of French new-wave cinema to the comics page. The result is a condensed visual poetry that still feels avant-garde nearly forty years later.
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