Exit Wounds

  • Review
By – November 14, 2011

Koby Fran­co, the main char­ac­ter in Rutu Modan’s first full-length graph­ic nov­el, is a taxi dri­ver in Tel Aviv. His some­what com­pla­cent life is turned upside-down when he meets Numi, a sol­dier in the army who has been hav­ing a rela­tion­ship with Koby’s estranged father. Numi has not heard from Gabriel in three weeks, and she thinks he may be the uniden­ti­fied vic­tim from a sui­cide bomb­ing at a bus sta­tion in Hadera. She enlists Koby’s help, and togeth­er they embark on a jour­ney that proves to be more reveal­ing than either could have imag­ined. The sui­cide bomb­ing, hav­ing tak­en place before the book begins, is not a promi­nent part of the sto­ry. Read­ers are giv­en glimpses of the after­math of the attack, such as snip­pets of news­pa­per arti­cles, a man­gled ceil­ing in the train sta­tion café, and one grue­some scene of an autop­sy. The mes­sage seems to be that dai­ly life in Israel goes on despite acts of violence. 

Modan, an accom­plished illus­tra­tor and car­toon­ist, is a found­ing mem­ber of Actus Comics, an inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing house for Israeli alter­na­tive comics artists. Her short works have been pub­lished in dif­fer­ent col­lec­tions, among them Jet­lag, five graph­ic novel­las writ­ten by Israeli nov­el­ist Etgar Keret and illus­trat­ed by mem­bers of Actus Comics (Toby Press, 2006). Exit Wounds serves as a per­fect vehi­cle to show­case Modan’s unique draw­ing style. Her del­i­cate lines are enhanced with col­ors that range from mut­ed grays and greens to bright pinks and yel­lows. Kobi, Numi, and the peo­ple they meet in their efforts to find Gabriel are endowed with expres­sive faces that reveal emo­tions rang­ing from bore­dom, frus­tra­tion, and annoy­ance, to admi­ra­tion, sur­prise, and accep­tance. The graph­ic nov­el for­mat is ide­al for con­vey­ing the sub­tleties in this com­plete­ly real­is­tic and engag­ing story.

Relat­ed Content:

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

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