Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 1, 2019

CR Review: The Red Zone

imageCreators: Silvia Vecchini, Sualzo
Publishing Information: Amulet, hardcover, 136 pages, September 2019, $15.99.
Ordering Numbers: 9781419733680

According to the supporting material within the book itselves, The Red Zone was the creators' attempt to reach out to people, especially children, feeling the impact of the mid-decade Italian earthquakes: homelessness, separation from loved ones and pets, psychological stresses and in some case simply how to pass the time. I enjoyed those aspects of the title; the way of life now observed in the present moment made a lot of sense as an interruption of a happier, more stable day to day. The emotional reactions felt real, and there's a noticeable lack when it comes to pressing the issues driving those scenes that give them a quiet authority. The work's awards suggests that the kids audience came to trust the authors as well.

It doesn't engage as fully and originally as a work that might stand the ages. The Red Zone is a nice book; it doesn't feel like an important one. I'll remember the book but not its component elements. Some narrative moments felt like cliches -- a boy missing his dog, a misunderstood bully -- but convinced as scene work appropriate to the broader situations involved. We live in times where we have to consider these kinds of wholesale interruption, these quiet shifts from one reality to the other. I might have wished for more accrued detail; artist Sualzo seems skilled enough to make more specific some of the situations faced by the core group of kids. I'm not certain that isn't a selfish wish, though, certainly a wider need catches more of the children for whom this book is intended as an aid.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

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