Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The medium of comics, often ghettoized by the majority of the western worlds media, is important. As a medium of its own, comics give their creators the ability to tell stories that other platforms just can't provide. (Something that is easy to forget in the time we live, with so many apparently 'indie' comics coming out that read like thinly veiled rejected movie scripts.) The ability to expand worlds and characters with the stroke of a brush is always appealing to creators and fans alike and is definitely easier to digest than say, films, where the pace is always dictated to you by the Director. One of the movie industries most loved, and arguably most lambasted, auteurs is David Lynch. Loved by the many who enjoy his intricate, multi-layered story lines yet despised by those who, and it is hard to disagree at times, find his work impenetrable and too much like hard work. This reviewer has always felt that Lynch's vision would be aided by the medium of comics and with that in mind we have Pachyderme by Frederick Peeters, a creator who in terms of ideas, characters, and creativity is closer to Lynch than he is any other comic creator. Is it any good? Go ahead and jump.
Story and Art by Frederick Peeters
Published by Self Made Hero
Pachyderme tells the tale of Madame Sorrel, desperate to get to the bedside of her husband who was seriously injured in a hit and run accident. A traffic jam involving a dead elephant in the middle of the street hinders her progress yet undeterred, she decides to leave her car and take a shortcut through the forest to get there. This is where the sense of unease and to be perfectly honest, the weirdness begins. The forest is the least of Madame Sorrel's issues as once at the hospital Pachyderme goes even further off the beaten path in a seeming never ending quest to get to her lovers bedside. She encounters a Spy vs Spy looking under cover agent who asks her to dig into the doctors apparent Communist leanings, a pair of almost fetal looking discoloured babies who often waxes philosophical to Madame Sorrel, and a morgue that has living dead inhabitants.
Pachyderme also tells the tale of the aforementioned doctor in charge of looking after Mr Sorrel. A man who, in terms of his personality, leads a double life. One half of the doctor is a cheery family man, loving of his wife and loved by his colleagues, staff, and friends. The other half of the doctors personality is one of a womanizer, uncomfortable in his own skin and desperate to get away from the past. Madame Sorrel and the doctors lives are tied together by Mr Sorrel, but not just in a professional sense. Mr Sorrel's occupation as a nuclear physicist gives the two main characters a much more darker connection. As if that wasn't enough, we also get to experience Madame Sorrel's trepidations about her relationship to Mr Sorrel, her loss of independence, and the possibility of another lover lurking between the pages of the story.
Verdict - Must Buy
As we approach the end of the year, (and if those bonkers Mayans are to be believed the end of the world as we know it,) it is inevitable that the end of year lists will be coming out in their droves. With a haunting and melancholic yet oddly funny tale that stays with you long after you have put the book down, Frederick Peeters name should be all over those top tens. With intelligent and poetic writing coupled with art that could go up against some of Europe's finest, Pachyderme is the true definition of a must buy comic book. Don't believe me? Let me leave you with a quote from the big daddy master himself, Moebius, taken from the introduction he wrote for Pachyderme not long before his passing.
"Pachyderme describes my own unease. I want artists to take me far from any sensation I've ever felt before, into territory that is less the perversion, than the reflection of some intimate, forceful urge."
Well said sir.