A Graphic novel Written by Ram V, Art by Anand Rk, Colours by John Pearson, Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
Teacher Erik Dieter gets the unfortunate news that his mother has passed away. Upon arriving back “home,” he is reminded by his sister Dinah that he wasn’t around enough toward the end of their mother's life, so he can at least help pick up the pieces now she’s gone. Erik, haunted by the memories of his time at home, does what he can before finding a strange picture of an unknown saxophonist, among some of the great Jazz musicians. His grief of losing his mum fuels an obsession to find out who this mysterious man was, who clearly meant a lot to him mum. Vowing that he wanted to get to know her in death better than he did in life, he starts digging into the old Jazz scene trying to find answers. However, things might get darker than he expected, and he could realise that he and his mother were more alike than he could have imagined.
This is a very complex book, with so much going on. Tied heavily to the Jazz scene, indicated clearly by its title Blue In Green, which is a Miles Davis song from the '50s. However, you don’t have to be a connoisseur in Jazz to enjoy all that’s going on here. Writer Ram establishes a deeply troubled character in Erik, who has a passion for music, always thought himself to be good, but just not good enough to make it. We get a clear sense of his troubles when he goes back “home.” Inner demons are clawing at him, to which it seems there’s no escape. Yet, like all creative people, these demons—as well as life— fade away, when he’s engulfed with music. One particular piece of the book showcases this perfectly when he is left alone, in an apartment, just him and his saxophone. He then wakes up and has lost two weeks of his life. Clearly displaying not just how much the music has consumed him, but how he’s become so obsessed that he didn’t eat. Erik is just an incredibly likable character who is grounded and very relatable. I found myself sympathising with him. Although it’s been a few years now, I recently lost my grandparents. So everything that he feels in grief and obsession going through this book, I was reading along, acknowledging that I felt the same way. Making him, for me, one of the most relatable characters I’ve read for a long time (not that I relate to his musical genius).
The art style in this is truly incredible; Anand’s illustrations are beautifully stylised, and working some magic with the way that spaces are used on the page. Although not the style I would usually gravitate to, it didn’t take me long to become mesmerised by the wonderful artistry on display. The collaborations with John Pearson’s art is truly wonderful. One set of three panels stood out to me as both poignant and hauntingly beautiful (shown below).
Whilst on a plane, Erik talks about morbid thoughts of the plane crashing and people falling out of it, tumbling through the sky like snowflakes, saying how he’s then reminded of the fragility of life. Showing off how macabre his character is, as he is a tortured soul of sorts, also displaying some wisdom at how delicate we are. The use of the off-white human silhouette that then blends to a white snowflake, which then is tainted red, is both beautiful yet disturbing at reinforcing the point Erik is making. We see examples like this through the book, where the art so perfectly matches the story.
Overall, I’d say this book is exceptional. Both beautiful and disturbing, it perfectly illustrates the struggles of troubled intelligence yet balances it with the grief that delves into obsession. I think this book can be summed up by a quote from the book itself: “The extraordinary is only an unconventional choice away.” For anyone who is a jazz fan who likes comics, this is a must have. If you like deep character studies, written perfectly with artwork that matches, this would be a book for you. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I’m hoping the physical copy has just as much bonus material as the digital one does.
Blue In Green graphic novel from Image Comics releases on 28th October from your local comic shop, as well as comixology