Review: 3” / Author: Marc-Antoine Mathieu / Artist: Marc-Antoine Mathieu / Publisher: Jonathan Cape / Release Date: Out Now
They say that a picture can say a thousand words, but with many modern comic books, this tends to not be entirely true. Walls of text and heavy dialogue has been a growing trend in the industry for some time, with writers seeing comic books as a stepping stone to movie scriptwriting. Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s 3” subverts this trend by being a mostly dialogue-free work, relying solely on the art to tell the tale. Not only that, but all of the action takes place during just three seconds.
The trick here is that the perspective constantly zooms in and out, bouncing from reflection to reflection. So for example, we get a close up image of a man’s eye, and as the image zooms in, we see that the man is looking at a phone. The next page then zooms in on a reflection that is on the phone, and so on. Each of these details slowly unveils a thriller, and the game is to work out first what is going on, and then work out the mystery.
On the face of it, this is a gimmicky coffee table book, filled with pretty images that will serve as a reasonable talking point and distraction. Digging deeper however, it’s a clever criticism on the state of sequential art, layered with meaning and ideas way beyond the superficial. Mathieu shows the reader that one can create a dense and complex story without words. What’s more impressive is that the story is actually interesting and entertaining.
3” is a clever book that can be kept on the shelf and used to make snobs shut up about the value of comics as an artistic medium. It’s also a rather stunning little riddle that is sure to keep anyone who enjoys puzzles reading and re-reading it for days.