Anyone who has ever had even a passing involvement with any creative endeavour, particularly a creative endeavour in which arts council funding is involved, will get a huge kick out of Brecht Even’s latest graphic novel, The Making Of. We are taken, in the company of a well-respected artist called Peterson to a place called Beerpoele which is in the process of kickstarting what will hopefully become a biennial arts event. Local artists – ranging from a slightly deranged sort given to painting swirls everywhere to a clown who makes balloon animals – are quickly overshadowed by the ever so slightly patronising presence of the great artiste himself – who we quickly see is (a) not all that when it comes to daubing the paint himself and (b) something of a nob, patronising others and chasing after the young photographer assigned to document the case.
Evens’ work is quite divisive: his art looks as if it’s composed of watercolours and can sometimes resemble an Impressionist soup. Combined with the fact he eschews frames for his imagery The Making Of can sometimes seem, especially on a cursory examination, as if the reading experience will be harder than it actually is. This is one of those books, though, that repays a bit of engagement on the part of the reader. Evens has definitely moved in artistic circles and knows of what he writs. Pompous Peterson is a delight, as are the various characters into whose orbit he lands – Kristof, the giant arts organiser with the big hands, Leslie, the delicate assistant who looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Erik – who having been described as an artist feels the need to qualify further: ‘I create things, I bring them to life, I am a Creator of Things.’ Oh-kay then.
All told, it’s the kind of graphic novel likely to feel unusual even to a regular reader of graphic novels so probably not one to jump into if you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, as it were. Saying all of that, I passed on reviewing Brecht Evens’ first book, The Wrong Place, for two reasons: I wasn’t enamoured of the art, which is a big deal when it comes to reading a graphic novel, and I didn’t like the way in which Evens eschews framing his imagery. All of the qualms I had about the first book were in place when I picked up his second, but as is sometimes the case with books you read expecting the worst, The Making Of was actually a pleasant surprise. I’d heartily recommend a read and, having realised my mistake, I am now off to purchase The Wrong Place and see what I missed out on there…
Any Cop?: One to slip into the stocking of any discerning graphic novel fan you know.