Vincent by Barbara Stok; translated by Laura Watkinson
(SelfMadeHero, 2014, 141 pages)
This graphic novel covers the final and most productive few years in the life of Vincent van Gogh. It depicts van Gogh in the countryside of Arles in southern France, frantically producing landscapes and trying to start an artist’s commune with Paul Gauguin. Unable to sell his work, van Gogh is supported financially and emotionally by his brother during this period, and Stok gives us a window into this patron/artist relationship through the letters they exchanged.
Stok’s artwork is simply rendered, and the colors are vibrant. She effectively portrays van Gogh’s frenetic energy as his creativity explodes and his mental health deteriorates. The dialogue communicates the essential points of van Gogh’s biography and artistic vision without becoming overly expository. I really enjoyed this quick read, and the final panels are particularly beautiful and moving.