Blue in Green is the latest original graphic novel from the breakout creative duo of Ram V and Anand RK. Their previous collaboration delivered another original work in the form of the 2018 hit, Grafity’s Wall. Where Grafity centered around kids in Mumbai and their “hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow,” Blue in Green delivers a completely different and unique narrative centering around New York jazz culture and the artistic struggle for inspiration.
The story follows Erik Dieter, a struggling musician just scraping by in the world. Though he has devoted his life and career to his musical passions, he still longs for the creative inspiration he feels he’s missing. After receiving an untimely call bearing news of his mother’s death, Erik is pulled back home and forced to confront the ghosts of his past. It is here that Erik stumbles across a supernatural mystery that takes him to the very edge of his sanity and makes him weigh the cost of inspiration.
Practically every aspect of this book evidences a creative team firing on all cylinders. Ram V’s writing delivers a fantastically engaging narrative that is only then brought to life by the artistic talents of Anand and John Pearson. The creativity trickles down even further through Aditya Bidikar’s striking lettering. This is a book that oozes creativity from every angle and provides one of the most original and terrifying horror comics of late.
One of the many strengths of Blue in Green can be found in its blend of genres. The book is all at once a drama dealing with intergenerational trauma and the ensuing relational struggles, while also crafting a superbly terrifying horror story. Ram V’s writing here soars as he engages the senses from the opening page. His words craft scenes and emotions you can feel as you read through the book. Ram V also does an excellent job at dealing with deeper themes and presenting horrifying ideas within this work.
The horror of Blue in Green lies not only in the imagery, but also in the ideas presented. Through the story Erik must weigh the cost of inspiration against effects that will ripple throughout his life. Though the central fears may take the forms of grotesque ghosts and Lovecraftian monstrosities, it’s their tangibility that makes them feel real. Creatives of all kinds can on some level relate to Erik’s inner struggle to not let his ambitions consume him. It’s these real fears that elevate the horror of the work to a new level.
Another standout aspect of the book is its artwork. Anand has shifted his artistic stylings from his more psychedelic and surreal work on Grafity’s Wall, to a style more reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz or Dave McKean. Gorgeous paintings and masterful collages fill the pages and give the book its own unique flair. Such stylistic choices imbue it with an atmosphere like none other and instantly set it apart from any other work on the stands.
The one aspect that detracts from the book’s many strengths lies in its reliance on music. The musical compositions that weave throughout the narrative are integral to the story at large, yet remain held back due to the lack of actual music. One cannot help but wonder what it would be like to hear the haunting notes Erik pours out of his saxophone, or the faint crackles of the record player as memories of long forgotten musicians echo into the night. For a narrative that revolves around musical endeavors, there are several major plot points that take place during musical set pieces, and the distinct lack of accompaniment leaves one wanting more out of such moments. However, to Anand and Pearson’s credit, they do their best to bridge this disconnect between mediums.
During such musical scenes, the text boxes and writing disappear to let the art breathe. On more than one occasion, Erik seemingly dances across the pages as he bears his soul through his music. Music lines linger in the background and Erik’s panels scatter across the pages like notes on a music score. It’s artistic choices such as these that evidence how strongly the illustrators are working to bridge the disconnect between the visual and audio mediums.
Perhaps the best example of this bridging of mediums comes in the rendering of the fictional song, “Two Wings from Labadee.” The song debuts at the book’s turning point and instead of having a musician dance across the page as before, the song plays out as visual narrative. Denoted by a distinct shift in style, the three page sequence allows the song to be felt and experienced instead of heard. While it’s not the same as if one could hear the music, it does an excellent job at recreating the experience visually and giving it thematic weight.
Taken as a whole, Blue in Green is one of the best original works to grace comic stands this year. Ram V has crafted a story that reads deeply personal yet also immensely relatable. At its heart, Blue in Green deals with intergenerational trauma and the cost of inspiration through what is essentially a ghost story. All of this is stunningly depicted through Anand’s brilliant artwork and Pearson’s vibrant coloring to create a cohesive and unique package.
Blue in Green is a book you will not want to miss. It’s bold, stylish, and terrifying all at once. One can easily sense the level of care put into this work on every level. Definitely do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Sit down, put on some Miles Davis, and lose yourself in this exceptional book.
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