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Book Review < Back

The System

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Peter Kuper
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)


There's a school of thought that says that pre-Columbian painted screenfold manuscripts, the Bayeaux Tapestry, Egyptian painting, Max Ernst's collage collections and Lynd Ward's woodcut-print books all share a common denominator; they're all graphic novels, and they're all silent. No dialogue. Narrative imagery only. Their themes range from simple mimetic narrative, through historical reportage to, in the hands of the likes of William Hogarth and his sequential paintings and prints, political speech. A damning silence.

That's what Peter Kuper's THE SYSTEM is.

It's a wild ride through modern-day New York City, from the streets to the spires. The whole city jostles together in the packed, vivid frames - millionaires and whores, bomb-freaks and lovers, all bumping into each other, all subtly affecting each other's lifes. Our point of view jumps from person to person like an infection as we rattle through a city coming apart, seeing it from a hundred different angles as it all slides away.

Kuper, who created the first comic strip to regularly appear in The New York Times, executes the book in stencils and a rainbow of spraypaints; fin de siecle hieroglyphics. And a damning silence.

-- Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.


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