Monday, October 1, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Garage Band, by Gipi

Garage Band, by Gipi. Published 2007 by First Second. Graphica. Fiction. Translated from the Italian.

Garage Band is a lush, sentimental hymn to adolescence and nascent adulthood set in the urban backcountry of Italy. The story is about four boys in a band who find themselves gifted with a garage- a room of their own to practice in. The garage belongs to Giuliano; his father lets him use it as long as they don't get into any trouble. The boys come from different social and economic strata and have different problems with their family and with life; they're linked by their love of music as well as their need for escape.

Gipi's narrative is pretty simple, an impressionistic coming of age story outlining the struggles of each boy and the tensions between them. What makes the book is the artwork. Watercolor is washed over ink in panels both small and large, both detailed and panoramic. The panorama scenes in particular are so striking with their graded colors and barest hint of civilization. The exact setting is unclear but the book seems to be set largely in backlots, beaches and scrubby countryside and Gipi's colors and washes put you right there so you can feel the moonlight casting off water or the sun bathing the treetops.

Content-wise, I would say this graphic novel would be fine for teens and above. There are mild sexual references and plenty of teenage shenanigans. One of the boys, the troubled Alessandro, dabbles in neo-Nazism to the horror of his friends. They steal some things; they learn some lessons and grow up a little. The art is what really stays with me. I enjoyed the story and was moved by the boys' struggles but I just really loved those gorgeous paintings. Gipi tells the story almost completely through dialogue, which keeps things moving, but the best parts were those panoramas and those opportunities to slow down and just enjoy the view.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


bermudaonion said...

I'll have to look for this so I can flip through it and see the wonderful artwork.

Zibilee said...

This might be perfect for my son, who is into graphic novels, and great stories. Thanks for sharing your opinion on it with us. I need to bring this one home for him soon!