Ignatz Update 4: Interiorae #4

Posted by on February 26th, 2011 at 5:43 AM

Rob reviews the fourth and final issue of Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae, a title in the joint Fantagraphics/Coconino Press Ignatz series.

Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae wound up as one of the most conventional of the Ignatz line of comics.  Of course, given how unusual most of the line has been, that’s not much of a knock.  Giandelli wove genre and slice-of-life concerns into a single story that wouldn’t have merited much notice on their own, but this extended exploration of the dreams of the bored and disaffected in an apartment building is notable for a certain flat beauty.  Each issue had a single-color wash: pinkish-red in the first issue, olive green in the second and kelly green in the third.  The fourth issue, however, is entirely in black and white.  Dreams and dream-time are over, the issue suggests.

Last issue brought the interpersonal conflicts and dramas of the building’s inhabitants to a climax, or rather, an anti-climax.  There was a great deal of the proverbial sound and fury, but the lives of the combatants changed as little as the ghosts of a family shown inhabiting their old apartment.  The genre conceit of the series is that an invisible white rabbit watches the lives of those who live in the building, reporting back to his dark, ovular master, a creature that feeds on the dreams (and nightmares) of the building’s people. This series is less concerned about the petty secrets and lies of people and more interested in the idea of inbetween spaces.  There’s the space between sleep and consciousness, the line between life and death, the space between commitment and detachment, the line between love and hate.

Giandelli revealed in the third issue that the rabbit in fact was the personification of the go-between between life and death, between flesh and God.  When a frail elderly woman began to sense the end was near, she tried to find ways to cross that divide.  When the rabbit guided her across a mystical forest to meet her maker, that was literally the end of everything.  The rabbit and the dream-eater left the building.  The family of ghosts departed.  The building itself shuddered and collapsed, its protectors now gone.  One gets the sense that the most truly worthy people left, or at least the most interesting; there was nothing left for the dream-eater to nourish himself on.

That final forest sequence was spectacular, as Giandelli drew a forest of delights filled with Jim Woodring-style creatures and numerous purely decorative touches.  This sequence was certainly in sharp relief compared to the rest of the series, which bore a flatness of style and affect along with a certain relentless grayness.  All of the various interpersonal conflicts never went anywhere, an indication that the “interior” life of the building’s characters was drab and dull–no matter their ideals or lack of same.  That essential dullness and tedium, while necessary to portray, wasn’t necessarily all that interesting to read.  Happily, the final issue addressed that issue by simply having the characters stop in their tracks with regard to the conflicts, with many realizing that something awful was about to happen.  While the series wound up cohering nicely, the end result was simply less engaging than the rest of the books in the Ignatz line.

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