European Comics
By Leroy Douresseaux
August 5, 2005 - 13:06

Fantagraphics Books
Writer(s): Thomas Ott
Artist(s): Thomas Ott
ISBN: 1-56097-649-7
104 pages, B&W, $18.95

A young girl finds out that she doesn’t have enough money to enjoy any of the attractions at an amusement park. She stumbles across a booth with “CINEMA PANOPTICUM” written on it. Inside the booth are a series of boxes with screens, each box containing a movie, which the girl can watch for the cost of a single coin (a nickel or penny?). What the girl gets is five short tales of shock, imagination, fear, and fantasy.

Thomas Ott’s graphic novel collection, CINEMA PANOPTICUM do “The Twilight Zone” and Tales from the Crypt right proud. This fabulous assortment of breathtaking tales, originally published in Switzerland, deserves a World Fantasy Award as much as any comics that have previously been nominated or have won that award. Ott’s silent cartoons, resembling etchings or scratchboard style illustrations, are so richly textured. Reading them is a damn bewitching experience, or it’s like experiencing several quick hallucinations. I finished reading Cinema Panopticum and felt like I’d gone through the labor pains of being delivered into a darker twilight dimension. Certainly this is a book for fans of horror comics and Gaiman’s Sandman; its magic is buzzing in the back of their minds even if they don’t as yet know name, Cinema Panopticum. A+

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