cover image The City of Belgium

The City of Belgium

Brecht Evens. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-77046-342-4

Evens (Panther) returns with a dreamlike, rambling, and fragmented narrative buoyed by eye-poppingly colorful visuals. The loosely plotted story crosscuts between three 20-somethings, each of whom spends an evening taking in the nightlife of an unnamed Belgian city, in hopes of transcending their mundane day-to-day. There’s Jona, a designer with a shady past who is moving to Berlin to join his wife; Rodolphe, a shut-in who takes “eight showers a day to distract” himself from health issues and who transforms into a dashing, philosophical satyr over the course of the night; and Victoria, who tries to extricate herself from her over-protective sister and her husband to have some real fun. Each manages to pair up with friends as they seek adventure, find trouble, and discuss their lives. Through it all, the city itself looms as a character, seething with alluring colors and nightclub denizens on the prowl, and the promise of salvation (or damnation). Some particularly stunning set pieces include the fully revived Rodolphe arriving at Club Harem to dance, and Victoria’s surreal cab ride after she has ditched her family. Some may find Evens’s story frustratingly opaque, even while admiring his audacious visuals. Fans of Olivier Schrauwen and other challenging avant-garde comics will be amply rewarded. (Oct.)