I have loved Belgian cartoonist Brecht Evens' graphic novel
'The Wrong Place' for years. It's huge and has never fitted on any bookcase
I've owned, and it is very special to me. I don't have any memory of how it
came into my possession, only the many occasions in which I pressed it into
friends' hands, saying Look at this!
Pages and pages of gorgeous, splashily delicate
watercolours, it tells three interweaving stories about being young in the
city, and about friendship, loneliness and chance encounters. Stories about
parties and the night.
Last time I sat down with 'The Wrong Place' I whispered to
myself I'm not Gary, I'm not Gary as I read about the shy boy (painted
in grey) who throws the first story's failed party and kills dead every
conversation he enters. But I have been, yeah, sometimes, bad days, and that's
ok. And in real life surely nobody (except people you idealise very much and
cannot even imagine bleary-eyed before breakfast in old pyjamas) can possibly
be Robbie, the charismatic local hero, who lights up the room, who everyone
brings photographs of to the barber.
"Last time I sat down with 'The Wrong Place' I whispered to myself I'm not Gary, I'm not Gary"
The illustrations float dreamily over the page,
unconstrained by traditional panels – some huge, some tiny, filled with
kaleidoscopic patterns and colours. 'The Wrong Place' works on a heightened
level of fantasy. Glimpsed windows are full of wild scenes, the characters
themselves are so strikingly drawn – and the disco (room after room and dance
floor after dance floor, hidden balconies, and an endless parade of dancers who
look like birds of paradise) is just too good,
promising the best night out you n/ever had.
To me it feels like a very tender book, with a lot to say
about finding and celebrating wonder and mystery. Adventures are around the
corner, and you must gather up the confidence to seek them out. Connect, even
fleetingly. At least that's what I take from 'The Wrong Place' whenever I read
it. And then I go out.
Sanders is a writer and performer living in Manchester, on Twitter as
writing has appeared in The Tangerine, The Emma Press Anthology of Love,
Eyewear's The Best New British and Irish Poets 2018, Butcher's Dog and The Real
Story, and has been described as “beguiling” by The Short Story.
also makes performances, workshops and drop-in activities for heritage
organisations and museums with Curious Things.
On September 14th she will be reading as a support slot at Bobby
Parker's Manchester launch of 'Working Class Voodoo' and here is the event page.