Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write ’em down for you?

The Interview by Manuele Fior. Translated by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, 2017. 9781606999868. 176pp.

The most important thing about this graphic novel is that it’s absolutely beautiful. Fior’s colorful 5,000 km Per Second (sample pages), also a love story, had a similar wow factor, but this book’s black and white art is just as dazzling. Everything is soft. Maybe he used a combination of graphite and ink? But then at the end he thanks Ann-Lise Vernejoul for creating and conceiving of the special effects in the book, leaving me with no idea how the art was created. Anyway, who cares, right? The important thing is it works hand in hand with the story — it makes the protagonists’ breakup with his wife softer and conveys the affection they still have for each other, it seems to slow down the way he falls in love with one of his patients so that he doesn’t seem creepy, and it take the edge off the future, which isn’t very startling.

More on the plot: It’s 2048, in Italy’s Udine Province. Raniero is a psychiatrist. He lives in the country with his wife, who will soon leave him. And he still drives a gas powered car. All of this is important because he crashes his car one night and while wandering toward home through a field he sees some lights in the sky. The next day at work he interviews a new patient, Dora, who has similar hallucinations. But Dora believes they’re signals from an extraterrestrial civilization, and that she and Raniero have been chosen to receive them. Dora and her friends in The New Convention, which supports the idea of emotional and sexual non-exclusivity, seem to believe the world is evolving toward something new, while Raniero and his older friends’ world is falling apart, disunifying. It all turns out to be a complicated yet elegant backdrop for the end of a longterm relationship and the beginning of a new romance.

Can I rant about the art one more time? Particularly the night scenes? And the way he draws naked middle-aged people? (A strange wow, I know, but its not the kind of thing I see in comics much.) And my favorite moment of the book, when Fior draws a two page spread of absolutely black panels to great effect, their size and layout implying unseen action. I hope you like it as much I do. (Samples here, including an amazing page where Raniero goes face first into an the airbag during a car accident.)

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