Created by Victor Hussenot
Published by NoBrow
Hardback, 96 pages. £14.99
‘What if we are merely shadows, our characters defined by a simple inflection of light? The realm of possibilities opens up, because in our world we are nothing but spectators.
“The Spectators unfolds as a poetical and philosophical introspection on the nature of man. Hussenot’s palette is awash with subtle colour, gently carrying the narrative and allowing the reader to envelop themselves in the lyricism of the work. Reminiscent of French New wave Cinema with its clipped dialogue, gentle pacing and departure from a classic narrative structure, The Spectators is an exciting new graphic novel.”
The Story: This book is hardly an easy thing to sum up into a few words. It follows a series of Parisians on a/our journey through the urban sprawl of present day Paris. We see the world in the brightness of day and the shadows of night. We chat to our friends, travel on the Metro, above and below ground – and explore and discover the city and ourselves.
The Review: Victor Hussenot is both an artist who uses angular iconography and the words of spoken and unspoken language to convey many, many feelings and themes. I have literally read and re-read this book since being handed it yesterday. It is stylish in the same way as the opening animation on a cool 1960s movie – but retains gritty realism through its reprentative and idealised city landscapes.
I know it’s hard to convey but this is the impact a book of this kind and quality should have on its reader. Spellbinding in each and every image, it weaves its own magical qualities through every page and panel.
To this humble reader the book opens as it closes, encapsulated in its opening lines. Perfect and succinct.
‘Each of us sees the city in our own way. From the rift between sleep and waking bursts of light. The mind’s eye is set free… The invisible is revealed.’
The book manages to slowly remain in its own motion and movement yet attain stillness in its ‘moments of grace.’ Strangely quiet – yet you can hear the murmur of the city in the distance, gaining on you like a dream. The art and words combine in both spectacle and introspection. Moments of dreamlike nostalgic memory are caught and held in our grasp, yet we still lift our gaze and marvel at the mountains of flats and office buildings around us. The city is so alive that it becomes a being literally on one page. A humanoid made of bedroom, hallway and balcony lights. Sitting and in turn looking up at the stars above it.
I’m afraid that I’ve failed in my description to remain unattached and distant in a review as this book pulls you into its narrative and art. It is both eerily weird in its non-traditional storytelling techniques yet also incredibly beautiful. It says that the best kind of beauty involves the moments that are strange and unexpected to the eye, brain and heart. It is breathtaking in its sequential artistry. Moment after moment of unexpected joy.
The world of Hussenot unfolds around the reader, we sit and observe. The images lack detail but, using originality and mood, represent more through this quality. We watch and do not judge. Bodies change and morph before our eyes, everything is transformed. Places, time and memory are treated almost as characters in the story. People change and undress themselves and their personality literally and metaphorically in front of the reader.
I cannot impress upon you how much you need to read this book!
• You can find the creator at his website www.victorhussenot.com
Many thanks for reading.