I know I’m in the presence of my favorite type of art when I find myself repeatedly asking:
“WTF is going on here?!” — in regards to both the content of the story, AND how it’s told.
The latest example: Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina follow-up, Acting Class.
Such art strikes a precise balance with respect to the nature of its multitudinous curios: the thrilling oddity is sufficiently maintained throughout, all while keeping total comprehension of both the whole and its constituent parts perpetually elusive, just out of our reach, but still seemingly attainable…eventually.
The problem with weirdness: the more time you spend with the bizarre, the bizarreness becomes increasingly normalized. Which means: the art must stay steps ahead of our constantly changing expectations. Ideally, each artistic decision and new detail revealed will shape-shift our conception of what exactly we’re engaging with.
This sort of art thrives on the audience remaining engaged by and in the myriad of mysteries on display, which encompasses our interest in both what’s depicted from moment to moment, and also on a more holistic level; we should feel as if our pursuit of ultimately ungraspable clarity will nonetheless bear *some* fruit. Nothing needs to be comprehensively resolved — in fact, it’s better if the ending ensures a lifetime of trying to figure everything out —but consistent intrigue in the story while moving through it is key.
And how the story is told — not just what happens in it — can be a crucial key, if not the most crucial, in this durational recipe.
Mr. Drnaso’s new graphic novel shows us the way.