Naiel Ibarrola is co-author of this piece.
If cinema itself has been freewheeling in its use and abuse of other art forms to show what influential critic Raymond Durgnat calls “the impossible,” why, when it comes to talking about films, should we be limited to literary forms of expression?
That’s the question illustrator and co-author Naiel Ibarrola and I asked ourselves before launching into a new form of film criticism using the comic format to tell our alternative history of cinema, a project that’s occupied us since last year.
The great thing about comics, as a medium, is the endless freedom you have in playing with elements of time and space, building up scenes, putting people in one place talking to each other, where in reality they had been thousands of miles away and never spoken the same language. Hence the comic, like cinema, becomes the art of the impossible. The comic imitates the cinema. So far, we have used the illustrations to show how a Raoul Walsh composition is realized; how an imaginary conversation between Yasujiro Ozu and Fritz Lang takes place in a dingy French café; and to fulfill many other cinephilic fantasies through ideas, colors and drawings. Now we want to share some of them with you.
For starters, we have our five favorite jazz films on display here in graphic form. Apart from drawing the key characters and musicians related to that particular film, each illustration is devoted to exploring major concept in films about jazz. The colors used allude to how each musician sounds and how those films feel, and frames within the frame, more or less, reflect the filmmaker’s very specific way of handling the compositions or the overall feeling of the film in terms of mise-en-scène and narrative. That’s why Black and Tan (Dudley Murphy, 1929) is made out of one big extensive frame and much abstract and transforming content within it, whereas All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1962) features eight classically structured frames within the bigger picture, all in accordance with this Shakespearean story told in jazz and its unity of time and space. Some of the concepts regarding jazz and film in these illustrations have been discussed before in my chat to Jonathan Rosenbaum here.
Finally, going full-screen (just click) for grasping all the details of each illustration is recommended.
Illustrations, concept and execution: Naiel Ibarrola and Ehsan Khoshbakht.
1. Black and Tan
2. Jammin’ the Blues
3. Jazz on a Summer’s Day
4. All Night Long
5. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser