A few months ago when I reviewed Jonathan Walker’s Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel, I called the illustrated novel “a bit of a bastardised mongrel.”
Turns out Jonathan couldn’t agree more; over at John Scalzi’s Whatever he argues the strengths of such a format in an insightful piece on the thought process behind his and Dan Hallett’s illustrated tome:
Bastardry has its advantages too … In an illustrated novel, the pictures are not part of the narrative continuity in the way that successive frames in a comic book are. They do not have to carry the burden of explaining what is happening, since that information is provided in the text; and because they are freed from this obligation, it’s possible to use them to do other things.
In couldn’t recommend Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel more. An accomplished, multifaceted work that follows the twisted fates of five sympathetic freaks in what is essentially an alternate-history Venice, its synthesis of words and images is effective enough to change anyone’s preconceptions about them thar picture books.
A chapter from the novel can be downloaded here.