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Unmasked - Chris Ware

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  1. The banality of the mother's life
  2. Technology and relationships

Unmasked is a short graphic novel written by Chris Ware and published in "The New Yorker" on November 2nd 2009. Unmasked tells the story of a married mother whose husband is always away. After that the grandmother reveals that her father had an affair, she realizes that her husband might cheat on her as well. Chris Ware tells a common story about infidelity and technology with quite simple drawing and uses the potential of comics to pass on his cynical point of view on technology and modern relationships. In this comic, Chris Ware emphasizes the banality of the mother's life and suggests that technology affects our relationships through juxtaposition of panels, page and panel composition and careful use of color.

[...] To conclude, Chris Ware juxtaposed detailed and moment-to moment panels to reveal the banality of her life, he used simultaneity to expose his point of view on technology and the masks that we wear in our daily lives and used primary and bright colors to symbolically represent the situation of the family. The emotional content in this comic is very important and only icons could transmit these strong feelings and complex ideas. He could not achieve to transmit so many ideas in only five pages only with words, comics are definitely a powerful medium for storytelling: ?I write the story with pictures - I don't illustrate the story with the pictures,? said Chris Ware. [...]

[...] Technology and relationships Through his page and panel composition, Chris Ware criticizes technology, describes the feelings of women in their relationships and amplifies the banality of the mother's life. Firstly, the composition of the page cover is very interesting. The children are literally masked. The masks are meaningless, they are costumes for one night. The parents of the children wear a different mask; while there is nothing physical upon their faces, we can see the reflection of the luminosity of their phones as they were wearing a virtual mask. [...]

[...] Red is associated to the little girl as she wears a red dress and yellow may represent the father, or more exactly the absence of the father. Chris Ware will all along refer to these three colors. In fact, the primary colors are first used with the three M&M's frame 13). The candies are separated by the phone. The blue and the red one are on the same side and the yellow one is on the other edge of the phone. [...]

[...] Chris Ware also uses color to express emotions. For example, when she helps her daughter to go out of bath and realizes that her husband might cheat on her, the background is all red panel 8). This transmits us the inner state of the character. We can tell that she feels panicked, angry and worried at the same time. Moreover, in the portrait of the grandfather, the grandmother and the female protagonist, we can observe the grandfather who was infidel wearing a yellow tee-shirt and the female protagonist wearing a red dress (p.5 frame 4). [...]

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