Monday, 1 September 2014

Cinema Panopticum by Thomas Ott Review

The framing device of the book is of a girl at a carnival who discovers that she hasn’t enough money for any of the rides or stalls - that is until she finds a small, unattended attraction called Cinema Panopticum. Inside it are 5 sets with screens, all cheap. She puts a coin in each and watches them one by one... 

The Hotel is a Kafka-esque tale of a man wanting to stay the night in, what turns out to be, an empty hotel. Finding a lavish spread in one room, he feasts upon it and then goes to bed. He awakens in the middle of the night with an ache in his gut... why is this hotel empty? 

The Champion sees a Mexican wrestler literally fighting for his life against Death. The Prophet follows a homeless man and his attempts to spread the word that the world is doomed. The Experiment features a mad scientist and his experiment on a man with poor eyesight. 

Thomas Ott excels at the storytelling in all of the shorts here, all without words. The black and white scratchboard technique he uses so skilfully perfectly matches the tone of mounting horror in each of the macabre stories and has you rifling through the pages, devouring each brilliant story much too quickly! 

As with all of Ott's books you can fly through it in minutes because it’s all pictures, but I always find myself going back and looking at individual pages again to admire the time each page must’ve taken as well as to simply enjoy the haunting imagery. The level of artistry is just astonishingly high. 

Cinema Panopticum is my favourite Thomas Ott book and I heartily recommend this, and his entire body of work, to all comics fans. His nightmares are too good not to be experienced!

Cinema Panopticum

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