Thursday, March 27, 2008


Those of us who love Peter Lorre and his deranged pedophile from Fritz Lang's M where probably horrified to discover that it was being turned into a graphic novel. What were they thinking?
Turns out that Abrams publishers was thinking smart, as even a cursory look at M by John J. Muth shows.
Muth has illustrated a host of children's books, including The Three Questions, Stone Soup, Zen Shorts and Come On, Rain!, the last winning a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators. And if you familiar with Caroline Kennedy's A Family of Poems, you've seen Muth's work.
And M is not new. Muth originally created it in 1990 in a series of four comic books for Eclipse (since out of business). Here the four books are collected in a hardcover edition from remastered negatives of Muth's original work.
Muth first photographed his scenes using family and friends to play the parts, shooting it in his hometown of Cincinnati. The photos were then treated with different techniques -- drawing in silverpoint and graphite and adding color to enhance certain objects or scenes.
For those who don't know the original film, it was Fritz Lang's first sound film, and it dealt with a pedophile hunted by the police and brought to trial by the forces of the Berlin underworld.
Muth's artwork, while shot in period costume, imbues M with a contemporary feel. He brings his pictures upclose and personal. You feel implicated in the crimes.
M is a beautifully disturbing work.

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