I want to say that I found my copy of Migelanxo Prado’s Tangents in a second hand shop somewhere, but it is equally likely that I purchased it from a vendor at a club or directly from the NBM table at Small Press Expo. Either way, I do know that my copy came with a tear in the front cover, which is why I got it for a reduced price. I’ve seen Prado’s work around (most notably in A Streak of Chalk), but this was new to me so I picked it up.
Prado is a Spanish artist who you may know from the Dream story in Endless Nights. Tangents was originally written in Spanish and the translated edition that I have was published by NBM, who had a nice line of translated European comics a few years ago. If you are dilligent, you can find their stuff in better comic shops.
Tangents is an anthology of eight short stories and each was drawn with crayons, chalk and ink – but the use of each varies from story to story and they are visually distinct. His use of color is fantastic throughout. I like the autumnal, sunset look of this story.
The common thread linking all of these stories is that they depict a scene in the sex lives of the characters. In most cases, this scene is a turning point in those lives, giving the story a degree of depth and meaning. In some cases, though, the writing is not the best; I’m not sure if this is due to the translation or if the artist just wasn’t good at writing dialogue. Also, there is a distinct lack of word balloons under the dialogue itself to provide contrast, which makes reading the words more cumbersome than it needs to be.
That doesn’t matter all that much, though. The art does a very good job of telling the story through body language and the like. There is enough information gleaned from the the captions and dialogue to provide context to the sad faces and dejected people. This is helped by the fact that entire pages of each story are done entirely without captions or dialogue. And Prado is very good at facial expressions.
One of the interesting things about the book is the nudity. This is to be expected due to the subject matter, but it should be noted that this is not a book for children. All manner of secondary and primary sexual characteristics are depicted, without modesty – which suits the tone of stories told about two people at their most intimate.
What I found most interesting was the fact that Prado chose to depict foreplay right up to the point of intercourse and then suddenly gets shy at the last minute and flash to a panel of discarded clothes. If intercourse is shown, it is usually from a distance. Maybe there is something to be said for the last minute shift in context to provide juxtaposition.
This is not an uplifting book by any stretch of the imagination, but the art is fantastic and it’s a perfect example of how to do sequential art about normal people. Stories about sad naked people work really well in comics form. Go figure.