What people usually call ‘silent comics’ is often entirely the opposite. The absence of words, of text, does not automatically rob a comic of sound. In fact, it can bring other sounds to the forefront, making it even louder in the process. María Llovet’s LOUD is a perfect example of this, a comic that attacks every sense imaginable with minimal text but with all the sound it can muster.
LOUD plays out like a kind of living anthology of stories all taking place inside a music bar/strip club. These stories range from full erotica to horror, from romance to crime. One story sees two lovers flirting around the fact neither has forgotten their last sexual encounter from two years previous while another story looks at a potential hit job on a man with a seriously sinful sexual history. It even goes as far as to dabble in the supernatural to explore violence between certain guests that prefer blood over alcohol as their preferred beverage. And that’s on top of some of the other stories, which are driven by erotic pure erotic energy and raw emotion.
What’s interesting about the stories is that they’re not divided by chapter breaks, nor do we get individual story titles. Everything feels like it’s happening simultaneously, and it unfolds seamlessly. What does give each story its uniqueness is its ‘sound’ design.
Stories that take place in the strip club part of the bar are flooded with onomatopoeias sounding out musical beats and their accompanying dance moves. Whenever we see characters escaping into other parts of the bar looking to satiate their lust, for instance, we can expect them to create their own sounds. It’s expertly synchronized and well-orchestrated.
Llovet’s art style is perfectly suited for this type of story. Her characters, environments, and sound effects all feel dream-like in parts, hallucinatory in others. Colors bleed into each other, forcing the reader to be a more active participant in their interpretation of them. Action sequences, dance sequences, and sex scenes are all very lively and wonderfully kinetic. You really have no choice but to see it all in motion. It’s an impressive feat.
As stated earlier, the comic isn’t entirely textless. There are some dialogue exchanges but they never take up more than two or three panels. What’s there is carefully selected and minimal. Character development and story progression come less from this and more from the characters’ bodies themselves. Llovet showcases a masterful approach to body language, and it’s not just the face or the upper body or even the hand gestures. Each character is a story unto itself and it takes all their individual parts to move the narrative forward.
LOUD is a statement on visual storytelling, both in terms of erotica and on sound in comics. Few wordless comics manage to tell their stories with such intensity. It genuinely feels like Llovet created her own imaginary soundtrack for the book. There’s nothing quite like it out there. It quite literally demands to be seen and heard.
Story: María Llovet Art: María Llovet
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy and display!
Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review