*I was given a copy of Portraits in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Europe Comics and Nikos Tsouknidas for my copy of the graphic novel*
The year is 1838. Louis Daguerre has just invented photography, and he is should he share it with the world, or keep it a secret? But the day a student from Greece helps to improve his invention, he decides it must be known to the greater public. Thanks to the young man’s ingeniosity, photography will travel around the globe, marking the start of a new era of visual memories. “Portraits” goes beyond the origins of photography to explore the pain of migration and the often powerful attachment to one’s homeland.
As a photographer, I was really excited to read this graphic novel. The story is one I’ve never seen told before and I assumed it would lend itself well to a visual format.
I was right about it looking great. The art style was wonderful, I loved how the characters would often come out of the frame, it really made them seem alive. Their designs were lovely as well. I particularly liked Io, she was really cool.
I also enjoyed the colour palette, but I didn’t really get why a lot of the settings were left white. It made the pages seem unfinished, in my opinion.
The story was where I really struggled. It took a lot of work to follow and the addition of trying to add complex characters made it almost impossible (for me) to understand. There were too many instances of non-succinct language being used and having to read over a speech bubble multiple times really takes you out of the story.
I feel like Portraits would have benefitted from not adding in additional plotlines. If it stayed true to the creation of photography and didn’t add the subplot of female social injustice (an important issue but it detracted from the main story) it would have been a much stronger story. I personally felt like the photography storyline got pushed to the side.
Speaking of the story, I really started to skim it near the end. This does mean I probably missed something important, but I got the jist of it from the images. Unfortunately, I did not find this graphic novel engaging in the slightest, but that doesn’t mean you won’t.
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