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Cinema Panopticum T Ott plunges into the darkness with five new graphic horror novelettes The Prophet The Wonder Pill La Lucha The Hotel and the title story each executed in his hallucinatory and hyper detailed scratchboard style and running between 16 to 20 pages The first story in the book introduces the other four A little girl visits an amusement park She looks fascinated but finds everything too expensive Finally behind the rollercoaster she eyeballs a small booth with CINEMA PANOPTICUM written on it Inside there are boxes with screens Every box contains a movie; the title of each appears on each screen Each costs only a dime so the price is right for the little girl She puts her money in the first box The Prophet begins In the film a vagrant foresees the end of the world and tries to warn people but nobody believes him They will soon enough In the second film The Wonderpill a short sighted man initially goes blind from some pills his doctor gave him but soon the blindness wears off and he finds they accord uite a view La Lucha the third story introduces a Mexican wrestler who fights against death himself In a typical Ott twist he wins and loses at the same time The final story The Hotel depicts a traveler who goes to sleep in what seems to be an otherwise empty hotel His awakening is the stuff of nightmares Ott's O Henry esue plot twists will delight fans of classic horror like The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt or modern efforts like M Night Shamalayan's films; his artwork will haunt you long after you've put the book down Perhaps the best collection of short horrorish stories I have ever read I was really taken off guard by how much I enjoyed Panopticum I've never been a huge fan of short stories and all the Lovecraft style monster tales I've been reading have always left me feeling like things were cut off just as they were getting interestingNot so with Panopticum Three short stories within an overarching narative each part has a distinct intro middle and end The stories are all mind bendingly peculiar and some involve monsters but the story of each takes center stage With clear precision Ott sets up each situation for us with amazing skill and restraint Using his iconic art style to create the ambiance he doesn't waste a single pannel His stories are deceptively simple and straight forward It would be very easy to underestimate the skill that went into making this book In this silent short story collection a girl visits a fair where she can only afford one attraction a cinema which will allow her to experience five absurd and horrible stories1 The hotelA man makes himself comfortable in an apparently empty hotel2 The championA wrestler has to fight his last demon3 The experimentDon't forget to take your meds4 The prophetThe truth is out there5 The girlSome things just can't be unseenA mysterious intriguing and disturbing collection One of the author's best The framing device of the book is of a girl at a carnival who discovers that she hasn’t enough money for any of the rides or stalls that is until she finds a small unattended attraction called Cinema Panopticum Inside it are 5 sets with screens all cheap She puts a coin in each and watches them one by one The Hotel is a Kafka esue tale of a man wanting to stay the night in what turns out to be an empty hotel Finding a lavish spread in one room he feasts upon it and then goes to bed He awakens in the middle of the night with an ache in his gut why is this hotel empty? The Champion sees a Mexican wrestler literally fighting for his life against Death The Prophet follows a homeless man and his attempts to spread the word that the world is doomed The Experiment features a mad scientist and his experiment on a man with poor eyesight Thomas Ott excels at the storytelling in all of the shorts here all without words The black and white scratchboard techniue he uses so skilfully perfectly matches the tone of mounting horror in each of the macabre stories and has you rifling through the pages devouring each brilliant story much too uickly As with all of Ott's books you can fly through it in minutes because it’s all pictures but I always find myself going back and looking at individual pages again to admire the time each page must’ve taken as well as to simply enjoy the haunting imagery The level of artistry is just astonishingly high Cinema Panopticum is my favourite Thomas Ott book and I heartily recommend this and his entire body of work to all comics fans His nightmares are too good not to be experienced From the framing story of The Girl wandering the carnival to the vignettes she discovers in the Cinema Panopticum this wordless graphic novel is a complete artifact with no loose ends The stories are surreal and horrific with a touch of dark humor Cinema Panopticum reminds me in many ways of my favorite TV show of all time The Twilight Zone This work might be considered the flip side to the cute surreal Ojingogo with one side of the coin Panopticum having a drop of humor in a bucket of surreal horror and the other Ojingogo having a drop of darkness to its bucket of lighthearted surreal humor But readers need not compare Cinema Panopticum to other works in order to see the work's brilliance It stands uite well on its own as a book in which the weight of the artwork is commensurate with the gravity of the stories it portrays The scratchboard techniue used throughout is by its very nature a little rough edged though this grittiness is foiled by the elegance of expression that Ott imparts to his characters His faces exude the underlying thoughts and feelings of each character curiosity laughter disgust and most of all terror; all in a wonderfully clever and even moving series of wordless stories that one will not soon forget

  • Paperback
  • 108 pages
  • Cinema Panopticum
  • Thomas Ott
  • Spanish
  • 12 April 2015
  • 9789873712227

About the Author: Thomas Ott

Thomas Ott was born in Zürich in 1966 He received training as a graphic artist at the School of Design in Zürich and has been a free lance comics artist and illustrator since 1987 From 1998 2001 Ott attended film studies at the University of Art and Design HGK Zürich He currently lives and works in Zürich and Paris Ott is also the lead singer of The Playboys Fantagraphics Books

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