Funnybook Babylon

October 23, 2008

Jamilti and Other Stories

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Pedro Tejeda @ 6:25 pm

Jamilti and Other Stories

Rutu Modan
Jamilti and Other Stories
Drawn and Quarterly

I walked away from Exit Wounds enjoying Modan’s dialogue, her coloring, and the expressiveness of her faces but feeling mixed about the overall story. Maybe I was too attached to her short form slice of life style from her New York Times work. These small stories were overflowing with aspects and ideas of family which felt sparse in the longer length of Exit Wounds.

It was my attachment to that blog work that made me pick up her current anthology from Drawn and Quarterly, Jamilti and Other Stories. Jamilti contains several of Modan’s short story work between ’98 to ’07, many occurring in modern Israel and based around families. Several use family photographs as ways to advance the plot.

I have to say even though nearly every one of the stories have some negative aspects to them, Modan’s other strengths were enough to make me enjoy each of them. One particular shortcoming in Modan’s earlier work is how ugly it can be. I love Modan’s current art style. Her backgrounds are quite strong and she is able to convey so many different emotions with simple line work. Her characters’ body shapes are quite fantastic, each character is drawn in a unique way that is more than age and sex appropriate but just natural. It makes it easier to realize them as actualized people instead of characters in a story.

It’s no coincidence that the strongest story in Jamilti, “Your Number One Fan”, uses this style. It makes each of the emotional points of the story resonate with the reader. Her older art style is very similar to her newer style but the three dimensional perspective is weak. Backgrounds, objects in the foreground and characters all become flat. This sucks some of the life out of the characters. “Bygone” suffers the most from this, which is a shame since it had some interesting ideas. A strongly plotted sequence of sexual seduction loses its bite because of the art’s inability to make you to feel the emotions of the characters. It feels like a singer/songwriter who you wish would drop the singing part.

However, Knowing that Modan’s art style does grow allowed me to appreciate these early works enough to overlook these flaws. I don’t know if can recommend this work easily to other readers who are not prepared to do so. I highly suggest that If you haven’t read her blog posts and Exit Wounds, you do so first, since they are much better overall. For readers who have read them, Jamilti and Other Stories has aspects of both that you will greatly appreciate.

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Preview available here.


  1. What do you think about her stuff in Cargo?

    Comment by Tucker Stone — October 24, 2008 @ 12:00 am

  2. I haven’t heard of it, so I did a cursory glance and her story appears to be wordless full page portraits of Berlin. I really like some of Modan’s panel layout, and found the story with full page illustrations in this book, Homecoming, to be the one with the weakest art. However, Roadmap has some fucking great monotone color art and make me really upset that Amazon is listing it for $70 bucks. Maybe I’ll get lucky and and find a copy of it at Strand to flip through.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — October 24, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  3. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    Comment by Suzanne Stringfellow — September 9, 2011 @ 4:03 am

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