Monday, January 12, 2009

Masks is written and drawn by Aaron Rintoul. Aaron has earned a spot among the established ranks of impressive self taught artists. He is generally influenced by diverse films and by his wife Erica, David Mack, Roman Dirge, Dave McKean, and Ben Templesmith. His creative arsenal includes a Mac, a Wacom tablet, Corel Painter X, Adobe Photoshop CS4 and a Canon 40D digital camera. His artistic style is a blend of traditional comic lettering, and photography, combined with a digital painting technique that gives his work a dream like feel.

The Masks promotional information states that it is a photographic poem as well as an exploration into the nature of identity. The story takes place inside the psyche of a girl named Sarah, who sees pieces of others’ past lives as well as memories of her own as she follows a phantom killer and his victims through a distorted reality.

Sarah sees the world like a dream where the images and words string together a fantasy that she lives out through the eyes of the girls killed by a phantom serial murderer. Sarah is confused about her identity and the landscape she travels as she jumps from pieces of the victim’s lives, their dreams and fears, catching only abstract glimpses of the killer.

This creative volume raises the question…”What exactly is a comic?” Does it have to follow the old, tried and true formula in order to be classified as a comic? This question could probably be debated endlessly. Thus, it goes into the graphic novel area. But, no matter how you classify it, Masks is a visually stunning creation with a deeply disturbing story running through it’s veins.

The images are dark and gritty, yet elegant and beautiful. Masks is very fitting in this age of self exploration and analysis, where everyone says they just want to “keep it real”. Really? How real is too real? Then begs the question of “what is really going on here”? Masks gracefully dances through visions and voices and lets the reader decide who they belong to and what’s going on.

When I first read Masks, I got the impression that Sarah herself had witnessed various atrocities, or caused them, and had understandably lost her grasp on reality resulting in her need to wear various masks. I didn’t come to the conclusion that she was seeing visions of other girls that were victims killed by a serial murderer until after I read the prelude statements regarding this graphic novel.

Regardless of how you choose to interpret the story, I recommend watching the fantastic Masks trailer below and reading the impressive first issue. I was mesmerized! This is by far one of the most breathtaking graphic novels I have seen. I leave it up to each of you to interpret the story as you will and come to your own conclusions about Masks.

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