Belgian graphic artist breaks with comic tradition

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:26am EST
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By Madeline O'Leary

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Comic artist Brecht Evens decided to break away from the traditional comic strip images of clear lines and pencil sketches developed in Belgium more than half a century ago.

After surviving at first on government subsidies, in 2010 he produced a graphic novel featuring vibrant watercolours and smudged scenes of sexuality and riotous nightlife, with characters blurred into their surroundings.

"The Wrong Place" - a graphic novel about the angst-filled night-time escapades of Robbie, a mysterious party animal - became an international success and made Evens the darling of the new wave of experimental comic artists currently sweeping across Belgium.

Traditional comics "seemed limited in what they could do and show", 26-year old Evens told Reuters. "They couldn't suck you in and just looked like toys laid out, or puppets."

His new style "lends movement and hustle and bustle".

Evens' success comes as graphic fiction, or comics, search for a new direction.

Traditional comic strips - with speech bubbles and clear pencil lines giving shape to the characters - are seen as old-fashioned. Even though they have die-hard fans in Belgium, that market is declining and was anyway tiny.

In big comic markets, such as Japan, South Korea and the United States, fans have long since moved on to new media, starting with television and now taking in smart phones and tablets. But these new media have flopped in Belgium, as readers are attached to the book-and-picture format.   Continued...