The Electric Sublime #1
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martín Morazzo
Colorist: Mat Lopes
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Review by Anelise Farris
The Electric Sublime #1 is the first issue in a promising new series from IDW that unabashedly tackles the subject of mental health and art. While the idea of the tortured artist is certainly nothing original, this comic approaches the theme in a new way: through a crime story with a hint of the fantastic.
When art by greats like Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, and Paul Cézanne (to name a few) are vandalized, a string of seemingly art-related violence erupts. In response to the crimes, the Bureau of Artistic Integrity recruits a man from a mental hospital to help them solve the mystery. The man, Arthur (or the “Art Brut”), is an artist who has a mental disorder that is both a blessing and a curse—one that gives
him a special ability but also prevents him from living in the “real” world.
In a similar vein, art proves to be both therapeutic and dangerous for Arthur; clearly he is a character without any easy alternatives. In addition to the mystery surrounding the art-related crimes, there is another story line introduced: a young boy with a gift for art, a gift with seemingly dangerous consequences all of its own. In these intertwined plots, writer W. Maxwell Prince raises interesting questions about the role of art in our lives.
While the comic opens in an art museum with audiences viewing art in a very removed, disaffecting way, it quickly shifts. The Electric Sublime #1 presents art in a messy, colorful, disordered, maddening, violent atmosphere. This dichotomy is echoed in the work by artist Martín Morazzo and colorist Mat Lopes through their striking portrayal of the stark, sterile whiteness of the psych ward, and the messy, chaotic color of the art world.
Buy it! As someone with an interest in both art and depictions of disability, The Electric Sublime #1 definitely delivered. The first issue presented an interesting multi-layered plot yet left enough mystery to keep me excited about issue 2. While you might enjoy the comic more if you are interested in art, you don’t need to be knowledgeable about art to enjoy the crime story and careful examination of sanity and creativity.