Russian Olive to Red King

Russian Olive to Red King cover

Beautiful and heartbreaking, as the horror of separation slowly makes itself known to the characters and the reader. Russian Olive to Red King is the latest joint work by Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen (Moving Pictures).

It’s billed as a romance, but as the artists post, that’s misleading. Olive is leaving on a work trip, and Red, left behind, has his own work to do. However, on a research trip in a small plan into the Russian wilderness, there’s an accident.

Russian Olive to Red King cover

One can’t help but read into the edges, as someone nags Red for an overdue project, the life of the artist. As the Immonens posted,

in some ways, the piece itself is an exploration of how we work together, what the relationship is between the words and the pictures, and how it is that we can respond and react to what the other person is doing. We make each other better.

Gorgeous setting shots punctuate each chapter, getting more and more cold and remote as events continue. It’s beautifully illustrated, which makes the harsh story all the more powerful, particularly with the contrast with the warm, often orange coloring. It’s a disturbing book, one that, like all their books together, requires significant involvement from the reader.

Due to the pacing of the story, there’s an overall air of inevitability about many of the events. That’s what’s so horrific — knowing that something terrible is going to happen and being unable to do anything but try to figure out a way to cope with it. Visually, Olive is dropping bits and pieces of her life behind her as she wanders the wilderness.

The second half (well, last third) of the book is Red’s essay about death and absence, accompanied by a series of images that reveal themselves as a metaphor at the end. There are preview pages at the publisher’s website as well as the artists’ site.


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