Three months, one room. This is, to say the least, extremely challenging territory for a cartoonist. Somehow, though, Guy Delisle has turned André’s account of his weeks of hell into a gripping visual narrative ... In Hostage, it’s the treacherous landscape of the mind that Delisle determinedly makes his own ... Looking at these cells within a cell, every corner of André’s prison depicted from every possible angle, you’re able to absorb the terrible accretion of time in a single glance – at which point you suddenly grasp just how well the comic serves this particular story. All this darkness and claustrophobia shouldn’t be exhilarating. The fact Delisle makes it so is yet another reason why he must be counted as one of the greatest cartoonists of our age.
Delisle’s new book, Hostage, is his best since Pyongyang. It breaks his recent formula, and in doing so beautifully demonstrates the aptitude of comics for representing time and subjective experience ... it excels in immersing the readers in the lonely and terrifying experience ... Representing this story, the bulk of which features André alone with his thoughts, is a feat of elegant visual storytelling. Hostage shows us how comics can movingly express an experience like prolonged captivity ... In making his focus narrow, Delisle departs from his earlier work, and recent comics work so riveted to visually articulating the world-historical stage. Hostage, in its beat-by-beat, day-by-day scope, is ultimately a travelogue about the power of imagination.
Between the guns-blazing opening sequence and the adrenaline-soaked conclusion–which feel like action comics, minus the primary colors–it’s panel after panel of not much at all … With so little to go on, Delisle turns to color, light, and line to create a visual narrative. The result is a brilliant testimony to the possibilities of the graphic form. A restrained color palette consisting only of gray and steel blue makes us see the monotony of captivity; the repetition of visual elements and a masterful use of shadow and light recreate the cyclical rhythm of life in the room … A different telling of André’s story might overlook these awkward, human moments in order to maximize the violent drama of his capture and his courageous, adrenaline-fueled escape. Because Delisle’s refuses to do so, it collapses the distance between ordinary life and extraordinary circumstance, making a harrowing story feel remarkably familiar.