VINCENT Graphic Novel review

A defining biography that must be read, if not to dilute the sycophancy of a recent film biography. Vincent Van Gogh is about to go to Arles and spend time in the dry heat of France. He wants to set up an artists colony, work on as many canvases as he can and then finally consume all the wonder of the place and translate that into art. He ends up however wrestling with his mental health, become obsessed with his work and finally his mortal end.

A real skill, when it comes to narrating a famous life story is balance. The issue with Van Gogh is often that he is revered for his works. He is almost a step above the rest of the pack, becoming if not a leader but a star who is hard to fix anything too without a volatile reception. LOVING VINCENT fell at this, due to its lack of balance and over emphasis on the novelty of a painting in every frame. The bite that should have come into focus and help make Van Gogh a three-dimensional person. Instead he seemed simply an empty enigma or worse a shadow not worth fixing on.

In VINCENT that is not the case. Here Vincent is the difficult, art zealot, psychologically unbalanced genius. Stok seems to have relished the chance at building around the well-trodden path in Arles. This is the anti-LOVING VINCENT for those who want bite. Shaprly emotional and deeply sad, the translation explores his later life with rich honest tones. Stok captures verbal details with a deft skill (I should commend the translation here actually) building the visual scene with Van Gogh sharp refrain, hard retort and occasional tender emotive blurp. This is not a complaint, it is often like coming to the Van Gogh life anew.  It reminded me of LUST FOR LIFE in its passion and in its capturing of vibrant, visceral colours. They are splattered on some times, like VG did. They are also blocked, bold and sometimes cartoon like. However they are extraordinary. The work is stunning and Stok deserves all the credit for making something new, from a life not new… to many at least…

ISBN: 9781906838799
Available: March 2014
Binding: PB
RRP: £12.99
Size: 240×170
Extent: 144
Colour: Full Colour throughout
Author: Barbara Stok


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