Druggy, thuggy graphic novel Luna Park tracks a slipstreaming Russian soldier through time and annihilation. A gripping but arty hardcover, Kevin Baker and Danijel Zezelj’s crime-travel comic samples cultural staples as different as Alexander Pushkin, Chinatown and The Manchurian Candidate.
But Luna Park also cleverly carves out its own gang tattoo, using a potent combination of dramatic graphics and fractal narrative that skips sharply across time, history and myth without leaving readers behind. The result is one of 2009’s best graphic novels.
“Time travel works particularly well in comics. You can just show it, instead of having to describe the hell out of it,” said the award-winning Baker, author of historical novels like the City of Fire trilogy. Luna Park, released earlier this month, follows that visual code with poetry, balancing Baker’s dense knowledge of history with Zezelj’s roughened but still cinematic illustrations.
“Luna Park gave me a chance to play with history,” said Baker of his first graphic novel. “But I’m just trying to hone and humanize it, to tell individual stories within its sweep. It bends me more than I bend it.”
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